2018 BAME Prize: Kit Fan Q&A

Kit Fan is one of our six shorlisted authors for the 2018 Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize with his story City of Culture. Get to know him a little bit better with this Q&A, and find out more about all six shortlisted stories here.

The story: City of Culture

Mai, a teenage girl from a seaside northern city, lives with her absent mother and works in her grandmother’s Chinese takeaway after school. In a wake of a family crisis, she struggles to find her voice while participating in her school debate on the EU Referendum.

What’s your name?

Kit Fan (in English) and Fan Chun Kit (范進傑 in Chinese).

Where do you live?

The City of York (I didn’t know ‘city’ could mean something so different until I arrived in York from Hong Kong back in 2001).

What’s your main occupation?

I am the Academic Programmes Manager at the Hull York Medical School, working closely with the Dean to manage the undergraduate doctor training programme and a portfolio of postgraduate research programmes in the School.  I often think that Kafka can cast me in one of his unwritten novel called The Administrator.

Can you remember the title of the first story you ever wrote?

It’s called ‘To Victoria Park’, a semi-autobiographical short story about a finalist attending a formal dinner as part of the Rhodes Scholarships in Hong Kong just after the Handover of the city from Britain to China in July 1997.

What are you reading now?

I am a polyamorous reader, so these books are all being read simultaneously. It’s probably not a good idea to do so but I can’t help it:

  • James Birdle, New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future
  • Yiyun Li, The Vagrants
  • Robert Seethaler, The Tobacconist
  • Sally Rooney, Conversations with Friends
  • Jenny Xie, Eye Level
  • Robin Robertson, A Long Take
  • Han Kang, Human Acts
  • Adam Nicolson, The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters

What’s your favourite word?

Kaleidoscope (don’t ask me why but whatever it is it must be Freudian).

What one book everyone should read?

Why does it always have to be one?  This is most unfair for a polyamorous reader.  If it really has to be the one, then I will say W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz because at the particular political and social juncture, the book helps us unlearn our misunderstanding of the past in Europe and reconnects us to the possibility of various versions of the future.

Which writers have influenced you most?

An international, anachronistic stir-fry: Virginia Woolf, Haruki Murakami, Henry James, Tu Fu, Emily Dickinson, Han Kang, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jorie Graham, Anton Chekhov, Gao Xingjian, Oscar Wilde, Alice Oswald, Tan Twan Eng, Colm Tóibin, W.G. Sebald, Franz Kafka, Louise Gluck, Bashō…

What’s the most memorable sentence you’ve ever read?

‘Forever is deciduous – / Except to those who die – ’

Where’s your favourite place to write?

With my full-time job, it’s hard to find time to sit down and write, so most of my writing begins in my mind when I am on my feet – walking or cycling to work.  Gradually, my mind has become my favourite place to write, or the first place where my writing takes place.  When I finally have the chance to sit down and physically write, it’s often like the monsoon rainfall, flooding over the roundtable in the dining room.  From the window, I see a pub geo-incongruously named Crystal Palace and a junction with the road making KEEP CLEAR fading by the day.

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