For an authoritarian regime facing a restive population, it’s an ugly version of the Goldilocks conundrum: How to exert just the right amount of repression to quell demands for democracy without going so far that you provoke disparate voices to unite in solidarity and opposition?

In “Indelible City,” Louisa Lim charts how her own identity as a Hong Konger had never been so clear until China’s brutal attempts to crush pro-democracy protests in 2019. She had been feeling increasingly alienated from a densely populated place where extreme inequality, soaring costs and shrinking real estate made “the very act of living” — even for “still very privileged” people like her — completely exhausting. Lim’s experience as a reporter amid a swell of protesters changed that. She could feel her face flush and her throat well up — not from the tear gas, of which there was plenty, but from a surge of emotions: “I’d fallen in love with Hong Kong all over again.”

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