• About
    Kit Fan - poet and fiction writer

    Kit Fan is a poet, novelist and critic. He was born and educated in Hong Kong before moving to the UK at 21. His debut novel is Diamond Hill (2021). His first book of poems, Paper Scissors Stone (2011), won the inaugural HKU International Poetry Prize. As Slow As Possible (2018) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and one of the Irish Times Books of the Year. His third poetry collection The Ink Cloud Reader is published by Carcanet Press in April 2023.


    He was shortlisted twice for the Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize and the TLS Mick Imlah Poetry Prize. He has won Northern Writers Awards for Fiction and Poetry, the Times Stephen Spender Poetry Translation Prize, and POETRY Editors’ Prize for Reviewing


    He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2022. He will be a Visiting Scholar at the The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon in 2023.


  • Poetry
    Kit Fan first book Paper Scissors Stone

    Order directly from Carcanet, Waterstones, Foyles, UKBookshop.org, WHSmiths, your local bookshop, or Amazon.


    In his disquieting third collection The Ink Cloud Reader, Kit Fan takes enormous risks linguistically, formally and visually to process the news of a sudden illness and the threat of mortality, set against the larger chaos of his beloved city Hong Kong and our broken planet. These shape-shifting poems are persistently sensitive to anxiety, and to beauty, questioning the turbulent climate of our time while celebrating the power of ink – of reading and writing.


    'In The Ink Cloud Reader, Kit Fan's moving, wise and fluid poems grapple with the forces "converting loss to some form / of chaos". The book's vivid portrait of a marriage, quickened by sickness and the threat of separation, presents love as a play of shadow and light. Fan gets stranger, more daring, with each successive book: he is an essential poet, and one I will always return to.' Sarah Howe


    'The compressed narratives in The Ink Cloud Reader demonstrate both lyric intensity and a remarkable dramatic reach. In this impressive third collection, Kit Fan's restless, explorative, compositional impulse is evident from first to last [...] The poems in this collection - personal, political, edgy, sometimes provocative - have a unifying voice both intriguing and wholly original.' David Harsent


    'Kit Fan's poems are a kind of lyric vortex: imagistic fictions that wrap themselves around a hard, lyrical, personal centre, something like the complexity of a seed. This collection holds at its core the tension of what to say and how to say it, gloriously in celebration of ambivalence, and questioning.' Rachael Allen

    Kit Fan second book As Slow As Possible
    ‘The assurance of the voice in As Slow As Possible is often startling, partly because of the precision of its vulnerability, and partly because Fan seems to sense something in the language that gives his poems an uncanny momentum and coherence. There is wisdom encoded in these poems that is at once fleeting and revelatory. It is an extraordinary book.’ Adam Phillips
    ‘If there is something of Marianne Moore’s eccentric edginess in the formal accomplishment of these poems, there is also an elegant surrealism wholly Kit Fan’s own. As Slow as Possible deserves to be read in the way its title suggests: this is a collection that will lavishly reward careful and attentive reading.’ Caitríona O’Reilly
    Reviews of As Slow As Possible:
    Kit Fan first book Paper Scissors Stone

    ​Winner of the inaugural Hong Kong University International Poetry Prize

    “‘Then all things began twice.’ The poems in Paper Scissors Stone are moved by the forces of repetition and release, and are haunted by crossings (of borders, of people, of languages and their written characters). With wit and sorrow, precision and tact, the poems study the essential qualities of places, persons, and their arrangements, asking us what it is to begin twice. The book is a formally beautiful and complete meditation on transformation.”
    Saskia Hamilton
    “These extraordinary poems, so assured in their directions, so startling in their clarities, have an eerily dream-like wakefulness. Fan’s enigmatic lucidity is born of a confluence of traditions, both real and imagined. This is not simply a remarkable debut, but a brilliantly accomplished book.”
    Adam Phillips
    “Here is a collection of complex work, skillfully executed. The poems, each carefully measured and crafted, when taken together add up to a beautifully articulated body of work. This is the performance of a fully fledged poet.”
    Louise Ho
  • Debut Novel
    Order at Bookshop UK, Foyles, Waterstones, WH Smith, and your local bookshop.
    'A vivid, powerful portrait of a vanishing world' - David Nicholls, author of One Day & Sweet Sorrow
    'A rapid-fire debut with a cinematographer's eye for detail, Diamond Hill interrogates fate, memory and redemption at a filmic velocity befitting its setting in Hong Kong's former Hollywood. Fan strikes a deft balance between agile set-pieces and lingering beauty.' - Naoise Dolan, author of Exciting Times
    'Gripping and highly accomplished . . . a thoroughly enjoyable and profound exploration of powerlessness, identity and the evolution of a city.' - The Guardian, Book of the Day
    'Fan is an exuberant chronicler of a lost time and place, delightedly preserving Cantonese slang and profanities... it's a timely consideration of Hong Kong's recent past.' - The Times
    'Fan creates a textured, unsettled portrait of a territory facing a decisive ending...The dark drama that unfolds is an elegy to that vanished vanishing world.' - The Wall Street Journal
    'Diamond Hill gleams with pleasurable insights...Memorable moments are sketched by a poet’s hand.' - South China Morning Post
    ‘Fan deftly mixes the sacred with the profane, often on the same page. Just when you decide there’s no room for holiness amid the wreckage, you realize there may in fact be no other option.’ - Kirkus Reviews
    'Fan’s evocative debut portrays a Hong Kong in transition... and brings poetic language and moving tributes to descriptions of the lost neighborhood. The novel’s aching beauty makes an effective argument for remembering.' - Publishers Weekly
    'Fan resurrects the neighbourhood as it would have looked in 1987, a decade before Britain's handover of Hong Kong to China - a precarious maze of shacks and open gutters, shaken constantly by the rumblings of the planes flying close overhead from nearby Kai Tak Airport.' - The Straits Times

    'Do you know what it was like here? You wouldn't believe the glamour. We had our own film studio, redbrick houses for the stars, even Jackie Chan. Now look at us - the Hollywood of the Orient will soon be gone altogether.'

    1987, Hong Kong. Trying to outrun his demons, a young man who calls himself Buddha returns to the bustling place of his birth. He moves into a small Buddhist nunnery in the crumbling neighbourhood of Diamond Hill, where planes landing at the nearby airport fly so close overhead that travellers can see into the rooms of those below.

    As Buddha begins to care for the nuns and their neighbours, this pocket of the old city is vanishing. Even the fiery Iron Nun cannot prevent the frequent landslides that threaten the nunnery she fights for, and in the nearby shanty town, a faded film actress who calls herself Audrey Hepburn is hiding a deep secret and trying to survive with her teenage daughter who has a bigger fish to fry.

    But no one arrives in Diamond Hill by accident, and Buddha's ties to this place run deeper than he is willing to admit. Can he make peace with his past and survive in this disappearing city?
  • Criticism


    • Review of Dorothy Tse's Owlish (Fizcarraldo Editions) translated by Natascha Bruce. The Guardian (22 Feb 2023).
    • Review of Akwaeke Emezi's Content Warning: Everything (Bloomsbury), Carole Satyamurti's The Hopeful Hat (Bloodaxe), Christopher Reid's Toys/Tricks/Traps (Faber) and Laura Scott's The Fourth Sister (Carcanet). The Guardian (3 February 2023).
    • Review of Michael Longley's The Slain Birds (Cape), Ada Limón's The Hurting Kind (Cosair), Sandeep Parmar's Faust (Shearman), and Celia Sorhaindo's Radical Normalisation (Carcanet). The Guardian (2 September 2022).
    • Review of Leila Mottley's Nightcrawling (Bloomsbury) The Guardian (2 June 2022).
    • Review of Denise Riley's Lurex (Picador), Maurice Riordan's The Shoulder Tap (Faber) and Shaun Hill's Warm Blooded Things (Nine Arches) in Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal (Summer 2022).
    • Review of Shane McCrae's Cain Named the Animal (Cosair), Ocean Vuong's Time Is a Mother (Cape), Sylvia Legris's Garden Physic (Granta), John McCullough's Panic Response (Penned in the Margin), Signe Gjessing's Tractatus Philosophico-Poeticus (Lolli Editions). The Guardian (1 April 2022).
    • Review of Xu Zhimo in Cambridge, translated by Stuart Lyons (King's College, Cambridge). Times Literary Supplement (11 March 2022)
    • Review of Thom Gunn's Selected Letters. The Poetry Review (Winter 2021).
    • Review of Amanda Gorman's Call Us What We Carry (Chatto), The Guardian (8 December 2021).
    • Review of Paul Muldoon's Howdie-Skelp (Faber), Katharine Towers' Oak (Picador), Stephanie Sy-Quia's Amnion (Granta), Ian Duhig's New and Selected Poems (Picador), The Guardian (5 November 2021).
    • Review of Henri Cole's Blizzard (Farrar Straus Giroux), Salmagundi Magazine (Summer 2021).
    • Review of Shane McCrae's Sometimes I Never Suffered (Corsair) and J.O. Morgan's The Martian's Regress (Cape). The Poetry Review (Spring 2021).
    • Review of Alice Oswald's Noboby (Faber and W.W. Norton), POETRY (July/August 2020).
    • Review of Nguyễn Du's The Song of Kiều (Penguin), translated by Timothy Allen. The Poetry Review (Autumn 2019).
    • Review of Rachael Allen's Kingdomland (Faber) and Emily Hasler's The Built Environment (Pavilion). The Poetry Review (Spring 2019).
    • Review of Robin Robertson's The Long Take (Picador) and David Harsent's Salt (Faber). The Poetry Review (Summer 2018).
    • Review of Thom Gunn's Selected Poems (Faber), edited by Clive Wilmer. The Poetry Review (Winter 2017).
    • Review of Jorie Graham's Fast (Carcanet) and Pauline Stainer's Sleeping Under the Juniper Tree (Bloodaxe). The Poetry Review (Autumn 2017).
    • Review of Patrick McGuinness's Jilted City (Carcanet), John Ash's In the Wake of the Day (Carcanet), Kwame Dawes's Back of Mount Peace (Peepal Tree), and Richard Gwyn's Sad Giraffe Café (Arc). Poetry Review (Autumn 2010).
    • Review of Clive James's Angels Over Elsinore: Collected Verse 2003-2008 (Picador) and John Kinsella's Comus: A Dialogic Mask (Arc). Poetry Review (Spring 2009).
    • Review of Simon Armitage's Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Faber), Sean O’Brien's Inferno: A Verse Translation (Picador), and Louise Glück's Averno (Carcanet). Poetry Review (Summer 2007).
    • Review of Chase Twichell's Dog Language (Bloodaxe), Elizabeth Alexander's American Blue: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe), and Tomaž Šalamun's Row (Arc). Poetry Review (Autumn 2006).

    Book Chapters:

    • Kit Fan (2015). Sinead Morrissey. In Jay Parini (ed.), British Writers. Retrospective Supplement III. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Charles Scribner's Sons.
    • Kit Fan (2000). Thom Gunn. In Jay Parini (ed.), British Writers. Supplement XXI. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons.


    • Kit Fan, "'Between the blank page and the poem': Reading Simone Weil in Contemporary American Poets, The Cambridge Quarterly 36:2 (2007), pp. 129-154.
    • Kit Fan, "Imagined Places: Robinson Crusoe and Elizabeth Bishop", Biography 28:1 (Winter 2005) pp. 43-53.
  • Events

    Current events

    19 April 2023, 7pm-8pm: Carcanet Online Book Launch of The Ink Cloud Reader with Caitríona O'Reilly

    11 May 2023, Launch of The Ink Cloud Reader, Leeds Library

    TBC June 2023, Launch of The Ink Cloud Reader, part of Festivals of Libraries, Manchester

    Past events

    8 June 2018 Reading at Fugitive Ideas: A Cerebration for Hugh Haughton, the University of York

    10 July 2018 Short story, 'City of Culture' long-listed in the Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize

    6 August 2018 Short story, 'City of Culture' shortlisted in the Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize

    27 July 2018 Poetry Book Society News Blog on my second book As Slow As Possible

    12 September 2018 Prize ceremony of the 2018 Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize, London

    11 October 2018 Launch of As Slow As Possible organised by the Poetry Book Society and University of York, with Kate Potts and Zaffar Kunial

    23-24 November 2018 Reading at Ó Bhéal (Winter Warmer Festival), Cork, Ireland

    13 December 2018 Northern Poetry Showcase and Roadshow, York St John University

    19 January 2019 Poets and Players Reading with Colette Bryce and Martin Kratz, with music from the Kell Wind Trio, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester

    21 January 2019 In conversation with Adam Phillips, Lutyens & Rubinstein Bookshop, London

    29 March 2019 Wretched Strangers: Poetry & Migration, part of York Literature Festival

    27-30 May 2019 Unamuno Literary Festival, Madrid

    27-29 September 2019 Kings Lynn Poetry Festival, Kings Lynn Town Hall

    30 October 2019 Reading at the University of Sheffield with John Birtwhistle and Peter Hughes

    3-10 November 2019 Reading and Workshops in the Hong Kong Literature Festival

    23 November 2019 Interview by New Writing North on the debut novel Diamond Hill, University of Bradford

    19 September 2020 The Hong Kong Shuffle: a celebration of Hong Kong poetics

    18 October 2020 Durham Literary Festival, Dialogue Books Proof Party: Kit Fan and Buki Papilllon

    21 October 2020 Madrid Bookie: The Art of Self-Care - A Hygge Evening of Readings

    3 December 2020 From Irish Fever to Chinese Flu - The Racialisation of Epidemics: Reading with Ian Duhig and Anna Chen

    18 January 2021 Brixton Book Jam with Stella Duffy, Nikita Gill, Salena Golden, Kit Fan & Courttia Newland via Zoom, Facebook & YouTube

    16 February 2021 Poetry Reading: Launch of the Chinese Language poetry collection at Manchester Poetry Library, with Jennifer Lee Tsai and Natalie Linh Bolderston

    20 February 2021 Poetry Reading: Launch event of Hong Kong-Singapore Digital Travel Bubble

    6 March 2021 Poetry Reading: Asian Cha and What We Read Now with Annie Fan, Louise Leung, and Eddie Tay

    30 March 2021 Madrid Bookie event with Spencer Reece

    7 May 2021 Toronto Public Library: Launch of Diamond Hill

    10 May 2021 Times Radio interview with Mariella Frostrup

    10 May 2021 University of Liverpool: Launch of Diamond Hill with Xin Ran

    13 May 2021 Dialogue Book Launch of Diamond Hill with Fane Productions

    20 May 2021 University of York: Launch of Diamond Hill

    22 May 2021 Singapore: Instagram launch of Diamond Hill with Elaine Chiew

    9 June 2021 Reflecting/ed Modernity: Roundtable Discussion

    1 October 2021, Wasafiri Poetry Reading

    8-9 October 2021, San Francisco Litquake

    13 November 2021, Hong Kong International Literary Festival

    3 June 2022, Reading and conversations with Alice Oswald, Keble College, Oxford

    22 October 2022, Poets & Players, The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester

    24 October 2022, 100 Queer Poems, University of York

    22 November 2022, NWN x University of York: Pride of Place

    23 November 2022, New Writing North Book Club, Diamond Hill

  • Contact

    Agent: Matt Turner at Rogers, Coleridge & White


    You can also write to me directly: