'So I was the 6787th person in Beijing wanting to act in the film and TV industry. There were 6786 young and beautiful, or ugly and old people before me trying to get a role. I felt the competition, but compared with 1.6 billion people in China, 6786 was only the population of my village. I felt an urge to conquer this new village.' Life as a film extra in Beijing might be dispiriting, but Fenfang – the spirited heroine of Xiaolu Guo's new novel – won't be defeated. She has travelled 1800 miles to seek her fortune in the city, and has no desire to return to the never-ending sweet potato fields back home. Fenfang is determined to live a modern life: she works as a cleaner in the Young Pioneer's movie theatre, falls in love with unsuitable men, keeps her kitchen cupboard stocked with UFO instant noodles. As Fenfang might say, Heavenly Bastard in the Sky, isn't it about time I got my lucky break?
When a young Chinese woman, newly arrived in London, moves in with her English boyfriend, she decides it's time to write a Chinese-English dictionary for lovers. Xiaolu's first novel in English is an utterly original journey of self-discovery.
“By turns hilarious and poignant. Xiaolu Guo has given us a fresh and bittersweet addition to the literature of cultural displacement.” – The Oregonian
“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)
“Xiaolu Guo has written an inventive, often humorous and poignant story of a woman’s journey over cultural and emotional borders.” – Gail Tsukiyama, Ms. Magazine
“Xiaolu Guo’s novel, her first in English, is smartly absorbing. Grade: A” – Entertainment Weekly
“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)
“As absorbing as a peek into a diary.” – The San Diego Union-Tribune
“It is impossible not to be charmed by Xiaolu Guo’s matter-of-factness… It is equally hard not to be impressed by Guo’s vivacious talent.” – The Sunday Times (London)
“A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers is original, humorous, and wise. Within imperfect language one can find many perfect truths of the human condition. The misunderstandings are really the understandings of the differences of the heart between men and women.” – Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club
“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, author of Chocolat