Posted 20 hours ago

Lockdown Lovers

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His poetry and essays appear in Times Higher Education, Voice and Verse, Asian Cha and PEN Hong's Kong's recent Hong Kong 20/20. And it hasn’t been easy: in a survey released in July last year by the relationship support organisation Relate, 38 per cent of 16- to 34-year-olds in relationships said they had struggled to support their partner emotionally during lockdown. Couples will maybe get a shock to their system after they realise that person isn’t the same, because they probably won’t be exactly the same. Potentially also [it’s made harder by] not necessarily having an escape… Sometimes, if we’re having a conversation… it kind of becomes way deeper than maybe we wanted it to.

O’Sullivan’s unique and penetrative writing style reminds us of Hong Kong’s malleability and vulnerability to language. The novel reminds us of our undying capacities for contact and closeness even at times of pandemic, when they seem threatened like never before. Books like Ying Ma’s Severance and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Fever 1793 also provided a counterintuitive calming effect. If I was just having a really bad day and needed to have a massive cry or something, It’s the sort of thing that I only want to do in my own space.I think the big thing will be how our relationship will be in normal life, because we have been in such a bubble with each other.

Hong Kong is suddenly governed by “news reports” and the whims of corporations, and for the individual, even phrases the “living room … take on new meaning now”.But O’Sullivan riffs on this newness, and in a refreshing shift of binaries, it no longer just Beijing legislation that has transformed the city into the “dystopian vision”, but the city’s own immune system. In this pandemic-ridden world, this novel reminds us how human contact will never cease to be mankind’s saving grace through the darkest times. Written by Brit Danny Spring ( Hunter Street, World’s End) and directed by Ric Forster ( Flunk, Neighbours), the two-hour film was shot in-studio and on location in Victoria’s Yarra Valley.

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