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A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Loversby Xiaolu Guo
The voice in this melancholy novel is that of an honest Chinese girl who is trying to learn English and who happens to be seeking the meaning of love. Written from the first-person perspective in an English-as-her-second-language vernacular, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers follows Zhuang's emotional and grammatical evolution as she explains her feelings to the London man with whom she falls in love.
Synopses & Reviews
Language and love collide in this inventive novel of a young Chinese woman's journey to the West and her attempts to understand the language, and the man, she adores.Zhuang - or “Z,” to tongue-tied foreigners - has come to London to study English, but finds herself adrift, trapped in a cycle of cultural gaffes and grammatical mishaps. Then she meets an Englishman who changes everything, leading her into a world of self-discovery. She soon realizes that, in the West, “love” does not always mean the same as in China, and that you can learn all the words in the English language and still not understand your lover. And as the novel progresses with steadily improving grammar and vocabulary, Z's evolving voice makes her quest for comprehension all the more poignant. With sparkling wit, Xiaolu Guo has created an utterly original novel about identity and the cultural divide.
"A fast, breezy read, don't be so easily entertained as to miss the many nuances — beyond the most obvious definitions are deeper, more satisfying meanings." San Francisco Chronicle
"Xiaolu Guo is a fabulous writer, fresh, witty, and intelligent. She handles language in an astonishing way. I don't think I have enjoyed a book as much in the last twelve months." Joanne Harris
"Funny, childlike and wise all at once." Los Angeles Times
"What makes this novel winsome is hearing the authentic voice of a young woman — bewildered, self-deprecating, funny, wise &mdashl; as she navigates the world on her own." USA Today
"Endearing....Concise takes us into a new territory, all the more exciting for its virginity." Chicago Sun-Times
"Funny and charming...more than a love story; its psychology is politically acute, and things noted lightly in it linger in the mind." The Guardian (London)
"A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers cleverly courts our assumptions about the chasm between Chinese and Western cultures, only to upend them. It is an utterly captivating, and disorientating, journey both through language and through love." The Independent (London)
"It is impossible not to be charmed by Xiaolu Guo's matter-of-factness. As A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers grows in complexity with [the main character's] growing vocabulary and the narration acquires fluency and tenses almost imperceptibly — it is equally hard not to be impressed by Guo's vivacious talent." Sunday Times (London)
About the Author
XIAOLU GUO was born in 1973. After graduating from the Beijing Film Academy, she published a number of books in China. Since 2002, she has been dividing her time between London and Beijing. She has written and directed award-winning documentaries including The Concrete Revolution; her first feature film, How Is Your Fish Today?, was screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2007 International Womens Film Festival. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, her third novel, is the first book she has written directly in English; it was short-listed for the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction.
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