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A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers

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A brilliant journey of self discovery for the heroine of this novel. It starts off written in fragmented English, which can be slightly awkward to read but improves as our heroine’s grasp of the language improves. A funny, witty story about communication and how even knowing each others language does not necessarily mean we understand one another.


A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo

Z is a 23-year-old Chinese language student who has come to London to learn English. When the book begins she can barely ask for a cup of tea, but when language comes, so does love. As she gets to know British culture she also falls for an older English man who lives a resolutely bachelor life in Hackney. It's a million miles away from the small Chinese town she comes from, where her parents want nothing more for her than that she should follow them into the shoe business. Z learns about sex, humour, companionship and passion, but she also learns the painful truth that language is also a barrier and the more you know about it, the less you understand.

Written in short chapters, each the definition of a word, this is a brilliantly clever book that pokes fun at England and China and explores the endless possibilities for misunderstanding between East and West, men and women.

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Written in deliberately bad English, this is a wonderful comic romance -- Eileen Battersby * Irish Times * An utterly captivating, and disorientating, journey both through language and through love * Independent * Guo uses her minimalist messed-up prose not just to tell an affecting coming-of-age story but to ask deep questions about the real differences between Chinese and British culture and language * Independent on Sunday * Funny and charming...more than a love story; its psychology is politically acute, and things noted lightly in it linger in the mind * Guardian * It is impossible not to be charmed by her matter-of-factness. As the story grows in complexity with Z's growing vocabulary - the narration acquires fluency and tenses almost imperceptibly - it is equally hard not to be impressed by Guo's vivacious talent * Sunday Times *

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 January 2008


Xiaolu Guo

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368 pages


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Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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