My Battle of Hastings

My Battle of Hastings

Summary

Embodiment, assimilation, integration – these are big words, but they seem to name a stage or a state I ought to be able to achieve in my brief life.

In winter 2021, Xiaolu Guo bought a tiny dilapidated flat on the Hastings seafront, a room of her own where she could spend time writing away from her domestic duties as a mother and wife in London. As Russia invaded Ukraine, she immersed herself in the English landscape and its past, especially the violence between Normans and Saxons.

My Battle of Hastings is a chronicle of Xiaolu’s life in Hastings and a portrait of a dislocated artist seeking to connect with her local environment in the hope of finding a deeper connection to her adoptive nation. Filled with profound, beautiful and wry reflections on war, history, migration and belonging, Xiaolu’s journey into the past completes the triptych of memoirs that began with Once Upon a Time in the East, charting her childhood in China, then continued with Radical: A Life of My Own in search of a freedom beyond her home.

My Battle of Hastings is above all an exploration of how an immigrant, an outsider and a woman can embrace local and national history.

Reviews

  • This is a beautiful, witty meditation on cultural cross-pollination on the English coast, and the meaning of home and history for a wandering artist
    Alice Albinia, author of The Britannias

About the author

Xiaolu Guo

Xiaolu Guo was born in China. She published six books before moving to Britain in 2002. Her books include: Village of Stone, shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize; A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, shortlisted for the Orange Prize; and I Am China. Her recent memoir, Once Upon a Time in the East, won the National Book Critics Circle Award, was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award and the Rathbones Folio Prize 2018. It was a Sunday Times Book of the Year. Her most recent novel A Lover's Discourse was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2020. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a visiting professor at the Free University in Berlin.
Learn More

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more