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I am China by Xiaolu Guo

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Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2015.

A tale of love and politics, of poetry and repression. In 1999 two Chinese students hid as a café is stormed by the authorities, so begins their love. In 2013 a pile of manuscripts, bits of paper, documents, diaries and letters are being translated by a Scottish girl as a publisher believes there may be a big story hidden amongst them. When we discover the identity of one of the authors we understand why this is expected. The novel is told partly through the translation of the documents and partly in first-person accounts of the three main protagonists. They are short chapters which is very effective. This is a clever book with many layers saying much but focusing on repression and manipulation. A very fine work. ~ Sarah Broadhurst


I am China by Xiaolu Guo

This book is 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: Dearest Mu, The sun is piercing, old bastard sky. I am feeling empty and bare. Nothing is in my soul, apart from the image of you. I am writing to you from a place I cannot tell you about yet...In a detention centre in Dover exiled Chinese musician Jian is awaiting an unknown fate. In Beijing his girlfriend Mu sends desperate letters to London to track him down, her last memory of them together a roaring rock concert and Jian the king on stage. Until the state police stormed in. As Iona unravels the story of these Chinese lovers from their first flirtations at Beijing University to Jian's march in the Jasmine Revolution, Jian and Mu seem to be travelling further and further away from each other while Iona feels more and more alive. Intoxicated by their romance, Iona sets out to bring them back together, but time seems to be running out.

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'Heart-wrenching... An extraordinary and important book' -- Charlie Cooper Independent

'Beautifully written... Genuinely affecting... Exceptional' Scotland on Sunday

About the Author

Xiaolu Guo

Xiaolu Guo was born in 1973 in a fishing village in south China. Having studied film at the Beijing Film Academy, she published a number of books in China and made the prize-winning film Love in the Internet Age (1999). She moved to London in 2002, to pursue her film-making, and began a diary in English which was the seed for the novel A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers. The English translation of Village of Stone was published by Chatto in 2004.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd August 2015


Xiaolu Guo

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Vintage an imprint of Vintage Publishing


384 pages


Literary Fiction
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Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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