OVERRIDE

Golden Boy

Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood

Martin Booth

Picador

At seven years old, Martin Booth found himself with all of Hong Kong at his feet. His father was posted there in 1952, and this memoir is his telling of that youth, a time when he had access to the corners of a colony normally closed to a "Gweilo," a "pale fellow" like him.

His experiences were colorful and vast. Befriending rickshaw coolies and local stallholders, he learned Cantonese, sampled delicacies such as boiled water beetles and one-hundred-year-old eggs, and participated in vibrant festivals. He even entered the forbidden Kowloon Walled City, wandered into a secret lair of Triads, and visited an opium den.

From the plink-plonk man with his dancing monkey to the Queen of Kowloon (a crazed tramp who may have been a Romanov), Martin Booth saw it all—but his memoir illustrates the deeper challenges he faced in his warring parents: a broad-minded mother who embraced all things Chinese and a bigoted father who was enraged by his family's interest in "going native."

BOOK EXCERPTS

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Golden Boy
1PORT OUTFIFTY FEET BELOW, MY GRANDPARENTS STOOD SIDE BY SIDE. IT WAS A warm spring day, yet my paternal grandfather, Grampy, wore a grey trilby with a black band and an overcoat buttoned to his neck. From far off, he looked like a retired Chicago mobster. His wife wore a broad-brimmed Edwardian hat decorated with faded feathers and wax flowers, which, even at that distance, gave the impression of being on the verge of melting. Her mound of white hair being insufficiently dense to retain her hat pin, every time she craned her neck to look up at me, the hat slid off backwards and Grampy
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REVIEWS

Praise for Golden Boy

"One of the most original and engaging memoirs of recent years. Personal, witty, and true."--The Times (London)
 
"A dream world, enchantingly recreated . . . Bold and curious, Booth treated Hong Kong as his personal amusement park, making a beeline to every single location expressly forbidden by his parents, including and especially the secret walled city controlled by the Chinese mafia. . . . An extraordinarily happy book, filled with . . . color, variety, adventure . . . hilarious set-pieces, and pulsating with Hong Kong's vibrant street life."--William Grimes, The New York Times

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Martin Booth

  • Martin Booth wrote the nonfiction histories Cannabis and Opium and the novel Hiroshima Joe, among many others. He died shortly after completing this manuscript in 2004.
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Available Formats and Book Details

Golden Boy

Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood

Martin Booth

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

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