18 September 2019
Leo Lee said there is a lack of English books in the book fair and most of the titles are in Chinese. Photo: HKEJ
Leo Lee said there is a lack of English books in the book fair and most of the titles are in Chinese. Photo: HKEJ

Author of the Year says book fair lacks personality

Renowned scholar and author Leo Lee Ou-fan has hit out at the Hong Kong Book Fair for its lack of personality and international appeal.

Although named Author of the Year for the exhibition, Lee was unreserved in his criticism of the event, the largest of its kind in Asia with over a million visitors each year.

Lee revealed that he initially thought of not accepting the award but later felt it was inappropriate to reject it, and so he decided to delete his half-written email to the organizer, Ming Pao Daily reported on Monday.

Lee, who said he did not visit the book fair last year, said he felt the organizer was simply paying tribute to a senior writer by declaring him Author of the Year.

There is a lack of English books at the exhibition with most of the titles in Chinese, he said. Book fairs in Taiwan invite writers of different nationalities each year.

Lee said he would not want to comment on political issues, but urged Hong Kong youth to have a more open mind. He said he respects different opinions because not to do so would be a sign of prejudice.

Born and raised in Taiwan and educated in the United States, Lee now lives in Hong Kong and considers himself an internationalist.

He said he likes to call himself a cultural man, a scholar and an amateur. Everyone needs to be immersed in different cultures in an era of globalization, Lee added.

Responding to Lee’s remarks, the organizer, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, said it would try to invite more authors, publishers and cultural groups to take part in the book fair.

The book fair has been declaring an Author of the Year for the past six years. HKTDC said it originally invited author Lilian Lee Pik-wah to accept the Author of the Year honor but she turned it down.

Lilian Lee wrote on her Apple Daily column that she has been keeping a low profile, and she didn’t want to accept any honor under Leung Chun-ying’s administration because of his lack of credibility. 

This year’s book fair will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center from July 15 to 21.

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