Aug 30 2021
Bleak House Books, “one of Hong Kong’s last independent English-language bookstores,” will close October 15. The store, which sells new and used books, was founded in 2017 by Albert Wan and Jenny Smith.
The decision to close the bookshop follows another equally painful and sad decision, which is that my family and I will be leaving Hong Kong in the near future. As much as I would prefer not to have to disclose this in a public announcement, I believe I have a responsibility to the people who support the work that we do here at Bleak House Books to be honest and transparent about the reason for why I need to close the bookshop.
The backdrop to these developments is, of course, politics. To be sure, what my wife Jenny, my kids, and I do in our daily lives is not overtly political. Jenny is a university professor, I sell books, and the kids are primary school students. But as George Orwell once remarked, ‘[i]n our age there is no such thing as “keeping out of politics”. All issues are political issues.’ This observation is as true today as it was in 1940 when Orwell first made it. And given the state of politics in Hong Kong, Jenny and I can no longer see a life for ourselves and our children in this city, at least in the near future.