Books

Language

Xiaolu Guo

Have you ever tried to learn another language? When Zhuang first arrives in London from China she feels like she is among an alien species. The city is disorientating, the people unfriendly, the language a muddle of personal pronouns and moody verbs. But with increasing fluency in English surviving turns to living. And they say that the best way to learn a language is to fall in love with a native speaker…

Selected from the book A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo

VINTAGE MINIS: GREAT MINDS. BIG IDEAS. LITTLE BOOKS.

A series of short books by the world’s greatest writers on the experiences that make us human

Also in the Vintage Minis series:
Babies by Anne Enright
Depression by William Styron
Race by Toni Morrison
Home by Salman Rushdie

Once Upon A Time in the East

Xiaolu Guo

'This generation's Wild Swans' Daily Telegraph

'One of the most startling and fascinating memoirs I've read in recent years...a story of China' Libby Purves

'Impressive...moving...exhilarating' Financial Times

'Guo is rebellious, flamboyant and fundamentally optimistic...fascinating' Scotland on Sunday

'This stunning memoir picks up where Jung Chang's 1991 bestseller Wild Swans left off...This book will make your jaw drop, then clench in anger' Five stars, Sunday Telegraph

'Riveting...Guo is a bolder, angrier and more ambitious figure than her forebears' The Times


Xiaolu Guo meets her parents for the first time when she is almost seven. They are strangers to her.

When she is born her parents hand her over to a childless peasant couple in the mountains. Aged two, and suffering from malnutrition on a diet of yam leaves, they leave Xiaolu with her illiterate grandparents in a fishing village on the East China Sea. It’s a strange beginning.

A Wild Swans for a new generation, Once Upon a Time in the East takes Xiaolu from a run-down shack to film school in a rapidly changing Beijing, navigating the everyday peculiarity of modern China: censorship, underground art, Western boyfriends. In 2002 she leaves Beijing on a scholarship to study in Britain. Now, after a decade in Europe, her tale of East to West resonates with the insight that can only come from someone who is both an outsider and at home.

Xiaolu Guo’s extraordinary memoir is a handbook of life lessons. How to be an artist when censorship kills creativity and the only job you can get is writing bad telenovela scripts. How to be a woman when female babies are regularly drowned at birth and sexual abuse is commonplace. Most poignantly of all: how to love when you’ve never been shown how.

I Am China

Xiaolu Guo

Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Fiction Prize

In a flat above a noisy north London market, translator Iona Kirkpatrick starts work on a Chinese letter. Two lovers, Mu and Jian, have been driven apart by forces beyond their control.

As Iona unravels the story of the lovers, Jian and Mu seem to be travelling further and further away from each other. Iona, intoxicated by their romance, sets out to bring them back together, but time is running out.

Xiaolu Guo was named as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists

Because I am a Girl

Deborah Moggach (and others)

Because I am a girl I am less likely to go to school
Because I am a girl I am more likely to suffer from malnutrition
Because I am a girl I am more likely to suffer violence in the home
Because I am a girl I am more likely to marry and start a family before I reach my twenties.

Seven authors have visited seven different countries and spoken to young women and girls about their lives, struggles and hopes. The result is an extraordinary collection of writings about prejudice, abuse, and neglect, but also about courage, resilience and changing attitudes.

Proceeds from sales of this book will go to PLAN, one of the world's largest child-centered community development organisations.

Lovers in the Age of Indifference

Xiaolu Guo

The lovers in the age of indifference are tough romantics from every corner of the planet: a marriage splinters during a game of mah jong; a depressed fiancée is lifted by a mid-air encounter with a Hollywood legend; a mountain keeper watches over a lonely temple but is perturbed when, finally, a visitor dares to arrive.

In this engagingly maverick collection of stories, writer and filmmaker Guo zooms into tender and surreal moments in the lives of lost souls and lovers, adrift between West and East. Her personal, provocative and charming fables capture the sense of alienation thrown up by life in the modern world, and we join her characters in their search for human contact - and love - in rapidly-changing landscapes all around the globe.

UFO in Her Eyes

Xiaolu Guo

Silver Hill Village, 2012. On the twentieth day of the seventh moon Kwok Yun is making her way across the rice fields on her Flying Pigeon bicycle. Her world is turned upside down when she sights a UFThing - a spinning plate in the sky - and helps the Westerner in distress whom she discovers in the shadow of the alien craft.

It's not long before the village is crawling with men from the National Security and Intelligence Agency armed with pointed questions. And when the Westerner that Kwok Yun saved repays her kindness with a large dollar cheque she becomes a local celebrity, albeit under constant surveillance...

20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth

Xiaolu Guo

Life as a film extra in Beijing might seem hard, but Fenfang won't be defeated. She has travelled 1800 miles to seek her fortune in the city, and has no desire to return to the never-ending sweet potato fields back home. Determined to live a modern life, Fenfang works as a cleaner in the Young Pioneer's movie theatre, falls in love with unsuitable men and keeps her kitchen cupboard stocked with UFO instant noodles. As Fenfang might say, Heavenly Bastard in the Sky, isn't it about time I got my lucky break?

Longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize.

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers

Xiaolu Guo

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction

Twenty-three-year-old Zhuang (or Z as she calls herself - Westerners cannot pronounce her name) arrives in London to spend a year learning English. Struggling to find her way in the city, and through the puzzles of tense, verb and adverb; she falls for an older Englishman and begins to realise that the landscape of love is an even trickier terrain...

Xiaolu Guo was named as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists

Village Of Stone

Xiaolu Guo

Village of Stone brilliantly evokes the harshness of life on the typhoon-battered coast of China, where fishermen are often lost to violent seas and children regularly swept away. It is the beautiful, haunting story of one little girl's struggle to endure silence, solitude and the shame of sexual abuse, but it is also an incisive portrait of China's new urban youth, who have hidden behind their modern lifestyle all the poverty and cruelty of their past.
Xiaolu Guo

Biography

Xiaolu Guo was born in south China. She studied film at the Beijing Film Academy and published six books in China before she moved to London in 2002. The English translation of Village of Stone was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her first novel written in English, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, and 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth, published in 2008, was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. Xiaolu's film career continues to flourish; her feature, She, A Chinese, was released in 2009 and her documentary Once Upon a Time Proletarian has been screened at international film festivals such as Venice and Toronto Film Festivals. I Am China is her most recent novel. In 2013 she was named as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists.