The culture ambivalence of Hong Kong: A walled city of miscellany in Xu Xi’s The unwalled city


Research output: Other contributionHonours Project


Featuring the eve of the Hong Kong handover between 1993 and 1997, Xu Xi’s The Unwalled City (2001) vividly captures the cultural ambivalence and identity dilemma in Hong Kong. Xu Xi is an Indonesian Chinese who was raised in Hong Kong and pursued her higher education in America. Unlike most Hong Kong literature, cultural hybridity is highlighted in The Unwalled City through code-mixing and multidimensional characterization. The multidimensional characterization of the two female Hong Kong protagonists Lee You Fun (also known as Andanna) and Gail Szeto embody the cultural hybridity in different ways but reflecting a similar aim– make a home out of Hong Kong. The social alienation and identity dilemma on their journey of pursuing their happiness in Hong Kong similarly unfold an ambivalent culture position of Hong Kong people that makes the representation of Hong Kong a somewhat ‘walled’ city that contradicts to the openness implied by the novel title The Unwalled City. This paper will examine how codemixing and multidimensional characterisation are used to unfold the cultural ambivalence and identity dilemma in Hong Kong through the representation of the city in The Unwalled City.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018



  • Hong Kong literature
  • Hong Kong identity issue
  • Xu Xi
  • Code-mixing
  • Characterisation
  • Cultural-schizophrenia
  • Ethnocentrism
  • Social alienation
  • Honours Project (HP)
  • Bachelor of Education (Honours) (English Language) (Five-year Full-time)
  • Programme code: A5B059
  • Course code: ENG4907