*Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award*
*Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award*
*Shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize*
*Shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2018*
*A Sunday Times Book of the Year*
Xiaolu Guo meets her parents for the first time when she is almost seven. They are strangers to her.
When she is born in 1973, 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.
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.
'This generation's Wild Swans' Daily Telegraph
Stunning...This book will make your jaw drop, then clench in anger.
Guo is rebellious, flamboyant and fundamentally optimistic...fascinating.
Riveting...Guo is an angrier, bolder, more ambitious figure than her forebears.
Utterly compelling... She writes superbly about her struggle to escape the constraints of gender, poverty and state interference. This extraordinary memoir will enhance her burgeoning reputation.
Aside from the fast-paced plot, this is most interesting for its probing portrayal of Guo’s ambivalent relationship with her homeland… An impressive feature of this moving and often exhilarating book is the brutality of her portrait of her parents.