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Breve diccionario chino-inglés para enamorados

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Una joven china, estudiante en Londres, entabla relaciones amorosas con un hombre mayor que ella; como no sabe inglés, se sirve de un diccionario para entenderse con su amante. Pero las definiciones del diccionario ponen de relieve el desfase entre realidad y lenguaje, y su imperfecto inglés revela la imperfección de la comunicación humana a la vez que una verdad incuestio Una joven china, estudiante en Londres, entabla relaciones amorosas con un hombre mayor que ella; como no sabe inglés, se sirve de un diccionario para entenderse con su amante. Pero las definiciones del diccionario ponen de relieve el desfase entre realidad y lenguaje, y su imperfecto inglés revela la imperfección de la comunicación humana a la vez que una verdad incuestionable: el aprendizaje del amor es más difícil que el de los idiomas. Todo ello con mucho humor, ternura e ironía. Una voz fresca, divertida y crítica que ahonda en la condición humana y en las diferencias entre la cultura occidental y la oriental.


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Una joven china, estudiante en Londres, entabla relaciones amorosas con un hombre mayor que ella; como no sabe inglés, se sirve de un diccionario para entenderse con su amante. Pero las definiciones del diccionario ponen de relieve el desfase entre realidad y lenguaje, y su imperfecto inglés revela la imperfección de la comunicación humana a la vez que una verdad incuestio Una joven china, estudiante en Londres, entabla relaciones amorosas con un hombre mayor que ella; como no sabe inglés, se sirve de un diccionario para entenderse con su amante. Pero las definiciones del diccionario ponen de relieve el desfase entre realidad y lenguaje, y su imperfecto inglés revela la imperfección de la comunicación humana a la vez que una verdad incuestionable: el aprendizaje del amor es más difícil que el de los idiomas. Todo ello con mucho humor, ternura e ironía. Una voz fresca, divertida y crítica que ahonda en la condición humana y en las diferencias entre la cultura occidental y la oriental.

30 review for Breve diccionario chino-inglés para enamorados

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, Xiaolu Guo Communication is proving tricky for Ziao, a young woman fresh off the plane from China. When she finds herself pitched headlong into an affair, and living with her English boyfriend, she decides to to write her very own dictionary, a Chinese-English dictionary for lovers. But will her new love survive the cultural chasms between East and West? تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سوم ماه جولای سال 2016میلادی عنوان: فرهنگ فشرده لغات چینی به انگلیسی برا A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, Xiaolu Guo Communication is proving tricky for Ziao, a young woman fresh off the plane from China. When she finds herself pitched headlong into an affair, and living with her English boyfriend, she decides to to write her very own dictionary, a Chinese-English dictionary for lovers. But will her new love survive the cultural chasms between East and West? تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سوم ماه جولای سال 2016میلادی عنوان: فرهنگ فشرده لغات چینی به انگلیسی برای عشاق؛ نویسنده: کوئو شیائولو؛ مترجم: ریحانه وادی دار؛ تهران، ققنوس، 1394؛ در 344ص؛ شابک 9786002782069؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان انگلیسی سده 21م داستان زنی چینی به نام «چیائو شیائو تسوانگ» است؛ زنی که از «پکن» به «لندن» در پرواز است؛ زنی که مشکل انگلیسی صحبت کردن را می‌شود در کلامش، که در نگارش رمان نیز نهادینه شده، به روشنی دید، و خواند: «...من در هواپیما 25000کیلومتر بالا به زمین بود، و تلاش کرد که به همه انگلیسی که در مدرسه آموخت به یاد آورد.»؛ و توجیه ماجرای عنوان عجیب رمان، با ورود زن به «لندن»: «تمام چیزی که دانست این بود که اصلا نفهمید مردم به من چی گفت؛ از حالا به بعد من همیشه فرهنگ فشرده لغات چینی به انگلیسی همراه داشت؛ جلد قرمزش دقیقا شبیه کتاب کوچک سرخ بود؛ حتی وقتی به دستشویی رفت من این کتابچه مهم را با خود حمل کرد» ...؛ تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 30/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cecily

    This is the semi-fictionalised diary of a 24 year old Chinese woman coming to London to learn English. It was published in 2007, five years after the author came to the UK on an educational scholarship awarded by The British Council. She knew little about her destination, and felt understandably lost and alien when she arrived. That sense of being adrift and uncomprehending is beautifully conveyed. Picture: Xiaolu as a new arrival in London in 2002, outside the Houses of Parliament (from The Gua This is the semi-fictionalised diary of a 24 year old Chinese woman coming to London to learn English. It was published in 2007, five years after the author came to the UK on an educational scholarship awarded by The British Council. She knew little about her destination, and felt understandably lost and alien when she arrived. That sense of being adrift and uncomprehending is beautifully conveyed. Picture: Xiaolu as a new arrival in London in 2002, outside the Houses of Parliament (from The Guardian) Language It's written in broken English, which gradually improves. The hook for each brief chapter is a new word and its definition - not just the literal definition, but how her understanding of it relates to her gradual comprehension of British life. There are many interesting insights into the differences between the two languages, as well as the two cultures, and indeed how language differences perhaps even frame the cultural differences. One I noted at the time I read it was that verbs don't have tenses in Chinese in the same way as English and many other languages, just regular prefixes and suffixes. Shortly afterwards, when I learned some Mandarin, I was grateful for that: the tones were very hard to distinguish, but at least the grammar was regular and easy - almost the opposite to dabbling in French, Spanish, or Italian. The Even Truer Version, WIth Hindsight and an Update Here's a long piece she wrote for The Guardian in 2017, looking back at her early days in the UK. The experience is still quite raw, or at least, her writing of it. She mentions living in Beaconsfield for a while. It's a town I know very well. Some of what she says rings very true, but several things are factually totally wrong. I'm puzzled as to whether she's misremembering or fictionalising, and if so why, given that this is not portrayed as fiction. Even so, it's an excellent article: HERE. It's actually an extract of a recent work, Once Upon A Time in the East: A Story of Growing Up. Her Next Novel Her subsequent novel, Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth, is very good. I reviewed it HERE. It's set in Beijing, but once again has a young woman adrift in an unfamiliar world.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (My full review of this book is much longer than GoodReads' word-count limitations. Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].) So first, a confession from my personal life that is relevant to today's essay; that like many others, I too once fell in love with someone while on a foreign trip, in many ways precisely because it was a foreign country and she was a foreigner within that country. And like many others, it wasn't just simple lust that ma (My full review of this book is much longer than GoodReads' word-count limitations. Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].) So first, a confession from my personal life that is relevant to today's essay; that like many others, I too once fell in love with someone while on a foreign trip, in many ways precisely because it was a foreign country and she was a foreigner within that country. And like many others, it wasn't just simple lust that made me fall in love with this person so intensely in such a short period, nor just a shared set of opinions and tastes; it was that I was feeling so scared and confused and alone in that foreign country, not able to even begin expressing myself adequately there about the emotions I was having, with this good-looking woman suddenly there and seemingly understanding everything I was going through without me ever having to say anything. In the middle of a very stressful international trip, she became a life preserver that I threw myself at, a small moment of calm in an unending storm that had been happening for nearly a month at the point I met her. And this of course is why the woman was ultimately not interested in a romance with me, because she understood where these emotions of mine were coming from, that for me it was all about the experience and little to do with her in particular; and she knew this of course because she had done some international traveling herself in the past, and had had the exact same experience that I was going through, but in her case did end up getting romantically involved with the person in question, which of course ended in disaster a few months later, such a surety that you didn't even really need me to mention it. Like I said, it's a well-known story from the world of international travel, a situation that is tackled once again in the extremely delightful new novel A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, the first English-language book by Chinese-British author Xiaolu Guo, one that was short-listed for this year's Orange Prize and has gone on to become a surprise commercial hit. Based on Guo's own experiences when first moving to London at the turn of the millennium, the novel uses a personal-journal format to track the first year of a new immigrant, using only the words that immigrant knows at any given moment; it's a literary trick that could've been awfully gimmicky if flubbed, but here Guo uses it to profoundly comment on Western culture from the eyes of an Easterner, to use the difficulty of a new language to metaphorically examine the entire society that uses the language. It is a book simultaneously laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreakingly sad, a story that will strike a lot of powerful (and sometimes painful) chords among anyone who has done any amount of international traveling themselves; one of those books that makes you want to run out and buy a bunch of copies, so that you can slap them into friends' hands and yell, "See, this is why I go to all the trouble that I do so that I can travel. Read this and you'll finally get it." Oh, and did I mention that it's really freakin' dirty too? It's really freakin' dirty too, not in a shockingly pornographic way (as are many of the sexual projects that get reviewed here), but rather in a delightful and highly erotic way, with Guo again using the quirky details of the English language to get across some highly symbolic (and temperature-raising) mental images. Like many travel stories, the actual plotline of Dictionary is a fairly simple one...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alwynne

    Xiaolu Guo’s first English-language novel incorporates elements of her own experience as well as her thoughts about the process of speaking, writing and existing in a different language. A young woman Z comes to London from China to learn English, part of her parent’s vision for her future. She takes up with an older man, part of a particular generation of London’s counterculture, ostensibly an artist he makes a living driving a van, vegetarian, bisexual, his home is a crumbling house in Hackney Xiaolu Guo’s first English-language novel incorporates elements of her own experience as well as her thoughts about the process of speaking, writing and existing in a different language. A young woman Z comes to London from China to learn English, part of her parent’s vision for her future. She takes up with an older man, part of a particular generation of London’s counterculture, ostensibly an artist he makes a living driving a van, vegetarian, bisexual, his home is a crumbling house in Hackney – on the cusp of becoming an unaffordable area colonised by wealthy, mostly white, Londoners hot on the trail of its reputation as an edgy, fashionable enclave. For anyone who knows the area and its subcultures he’s a walking cliché but to Z he's fresh and intriguing. Xiaolu uses this unexpected, turbulent relationship to explore questions about communication and intimacy, language and culture, and the seeming impossibility of transparent translation. Here, as recently, she’s drawing on the work of Roland Barthes, his ideas about meaning, and especially his A Lover’s Discourse. Xiaolu’s innovative approach to writing about alienation, gender relationships, differing worldviews and clashing concepts of love and family has some very positive aspects but I felt the narrative had a slightly underdone, forced quality, particularly in the later, more episodic sections. I didn’t find it as rich and fully realised a piece as Village of Stone although I’d be interested to find out more about her return to similar terrain in her later book A Lover’s Discourse

  5. 5 out of 5

    Woman Reading

    4 ☆ It's the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance. Despite the suggestive title, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers is not a romance novel. Zhang Xiao Qiao, aged 23, has arrived in the UK in February 2003 because her parents insist that she studies English in order to improve her economic prospects. Dubbed "Ms. Z" because the majority of people won't even attempt to learn how to pronounce her name, Zhang narrates her one-year experience of being away from China. This 4 ☆ It's the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance. Despite the suggestive title, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers is not a romance novel. Zhang Xiao Qiao, aged 23, has arrived in the UK in February 2003 because her parents insist that she studies English in order to improve her economic prospects. Dubbed "Ms. Z" because the majority of people won't even attempt to learn how to pronounce her name, Zhang narrates her one-year experience of being away from China. This is not just a clash of East-Meets-West story but also a coming-of-age tale set in the crucible of a foreign environment. I am alien, like Hollywood film Alien, I live in another planet, with funny looking and strange language. The first half is quite amusing as Zhang makes observations in her new home and then draws inferences about the British and Chinese cultures. The most comical vignette occurs as she examines a gift (view spoiler)[- a personal massager (hide spoiler)] during her birthday celebration at a restaurant. English words made only from twenty-six characters? Are English a bit lazy or what? We have fifty thousand characters in Chinese. Chinese we starting sentence from concept of time or place ... so time and space always bigger than little human in our country. One major motif is her loneliness due to her social isolation in this foreign environment. Zhang talks about the importance of the collective in Chinese life as opposed to the strong sense of the individual in the UK. This theme plays out via her romantic relationship with an unnamed Brit she meets at the cinema within a month of her arrival. Her circumstances have altered so rapidly and dramatically, that she opens herself up to even more change by immediately moving in with this 44-year old sculptor / delivery man, whom she always refers to as "he" or "you" as the novel is written in the form of her journal entries. I am always alone, talking in my notebook, or wandering here and there like invisible ghost. Maybe I want find man can love me. A man in this country save me, take me, adopt me, be my family, be my home. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary has a stylized presentation in the form of dictionary entries organized by the months. The liberties with the English language diminish as she increases her level of comprehension and mastery over it. This lack of fluency, however, keeps some of her personal insights at a shallow level. But if you've ever wrestled with a foreign language while abroad or have been an immigrant, then you'll be able to fill in any gaps. Throughout this novel, Zhang grapples with developing her sense of self through sexual freedom, her interactions with her romantic partner, and possession of this second language. I enjoyed this enough that I'm now curious about the author's memoir Nine Continents. 'Love', this English word: like other English words it has tense. 'Loved' or 'will love' or 'have loved'. All these tenses mean Love is time-limited thing. Not infinite. It only exist in particular period of time. In Chinese, love is '爱' (ai). It has no tense. No past and future. Love in Chinese means a being, a situation, a circumstance. Love is existence, holding past and future.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Margitte

    Blurb: 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. Bland. Here and there a highlight, particularly when the girl compares her own use of English with Shakespeare's and walks out the winner! (Rightly so!) One thing, even Shakespeare write bad English. For example, he says “Where go thou? Blurb: 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. Bland. Here and there a highlight, particularly when the girl compares her own use of English with Shakespeare's and walks out the winner! (Rightly so!) One thing, even Shakespeare write bad English. For example, he says “Where go thou?” If I speak like that Mrs. Margaret will tell me wrongly. Also I finding poem of him call “An Outcry Upon Opportunity”: ’Tis thou that execut’st the traitor’s treason; Thou sett’st the wolf where he the lamb may get I not understanding at all. What this “’tis,” “execut’st” and “sett’st”? Shakespeare can writing that, my spelling not too bad then. Twenty-four-year-old Ms.Z travels from a small town/village in China to England to study English. Her parents expect of her to sell their shoes from their family-owned factory to the British and she needs to learn the language properly. She meets a man, twenty years her senior, with whom she starts a relationship. The exposure to the European cultures are often funny, although she struggles to adapt to the new language and decadent lifestyle of her lover. Her stay in England becomes a journey from adolescence to adulthood through the language of sex, fueled by her insecurities and her effort to control her environment. While attending her language classes in England, she uses a notebook in which she dots down new words and ideas. This notebook becomes the mainstay of her journey through the new environment. It becomes as much a word list as a journal of her anxieties and successes. She becomes a totally different person in a very short time and returns to China with a new independence. Her parents are not happy with her choices, but she revels in her new freedom of movement and thought. My comments: Her newfound love does not have a name, and hardly any other characters become more than just bodies populating her personal space. Her travels through Europe are mostly introspective, sexually orientated, and impersonal. Her parents taught her not to speak to strangers, which disabled her from finding true friends. The differences between her mother tongue and English is informative and very often funny, although she claims that Chinese people do not understand humor. It's a tough read of a tough story yet entertaining and sad at the same time. Humorous moments are sprinkled all over the events, while a deep compassion for the girl's loneliness and struggles become the reader's forté throughout this tale. It is inevitable. The book did not sport any emotional warfare in my psyche. I often found revulsion feeding a severe heartburn in my being. It just left me with an empty sadness as a reminder of this experience. Perhaps it was meant to be.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Vicky

    Things I liked: 1)The title of this book, which is named after an actual Chinese to English dictionary. 2)Z's unintentional humor, like--"I not understanding what she saying. Mrs. Margaret have a neatly cut pale blonde hair, with very serious clothes. Top and her bottom always same colour. She not telling her age, but I guessing she from 31 to 56." 3)Z's language reflections, like--"I thought English is a strange language. Now I think French is even more strange. In France, their fish is poisson, t Things I liked: 1)The title of this book, which is named after an actual Chinese to English dictionary. 2)Z's unintentional humor, like--"I not understanding what she saying. Mrs. Margaret have a neatly cut pale blonde hair, with very serious clothes. Top and her bottom always same colour. She not telling her age, but I guessing she from 31 to 56." 3)Z's language reflections, like--"I thought English is a strange language. Now I think French is even more strange. In France, their fish is poisson, their bread is pain and their pancake is crêpe. Pain and poison and crap. That's what they have every day." Other things: 1)The concept of the book (with definitions at the top & written to this lover)kind of reminds me of another book: Pages For You by Sylvia Brownrigg. But like other reviews I've read before starting this book, I couldn't sympathize with Z very much because 2)Z mentions to her lover that in China, nobody's really lonely. They are a collectivist country; always a crowd, a family. But she doesn't feel homesick. She seems to hate and love her parents at the same time. She has only been in an individualistic country for less than a year, but then why does she seem to have the mindset as if she was raised in both? I could believe this if she didn't carry other things instilled in her from China, like how the man should pay for everything & the concept of loneliness and privacy, etc. Maybe it's simply because she reminds me of my mother and myself, and it conflicts just for me. 3)Because Z tries to write in English, she doesn't have the "nuances of British customs" or manners yet, and comes across as too blunt, therefore a bit hard to like. That's why I liked the couple times she simply wrote in Chinese (which is translated on the next page) because it was an opportunity to read what she may really be like, that she can't express, but on those occasions, she writes very short paragraphs about the same thing: her lover, 4)who is not easy to like either, but can be understood. 5)Then Z travels around Europe to France, Dublin, Amsterdam, etc. and meets more men that she has some attraction to. I was afraid the remainder of the book would turn out like this. I'm glad it didn't, but I'm not glad that it seems the same--how come these men give in so easily to her and invite her to stay with them? Is that believable? Final thoughts: I would give this book 3.5/5 stars. It's worth reading, and it's easy to read after I got familiar with her missing articles and written "accent." And she reminded me of my family sometimes, like the moon-calendar-birthdays and making up new ones and I laughed at how subtle the "female massager" instructions were and the difference between "pumas" & "pomas"; "Chanel No. 5" & "Chanel No. 6". That's all.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    Lately I’ve been obsessed with stories about impossible loves, those unrequited, betrayed, or starcrossed loves. I read books about two characters who’d die for each other but somehow cannot live for each other. I watch romantic movies with endings that are never happy, often sad, if I’m lucky hopeful. And I ask my friends about their loves and their friends’ loves and their friends’ friends’ loves: have any of them found someone and had it work out? has anybody found a love that is possible? I w Lately I’ve been obsessed with stories about impossible loves, those unrequited, betrayed, or starcrossed loves. I read books about two characters who’d die for each other but somehow cannot live for each other. I watch romantic movies with endings that are never happy, often sad, if I’m lucky hopeful. And I ask my friends about their loves and their friends’ loves and their friends’ friends’ loves: have any of them found someone and had it work out? has anybody found a love that is possible? I want to know for selfish reasons. In the same way you’d swallow a pill to cure illness, I consume love stories to soothe an anxious mind and an ailing heart. But it’s also aesthetic, a universal pursuit for stories that show us impossibility and how it is sad and therefore quite beautiful. I feel like Xiaolu Guo is a kindred spirit, a partner anthropologist observing, seeking, and probing impossible loves. Because in A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers she creates a real humdinger of an impossible love: a 24-year-old Chinese woman with limited English plus a 40-something English man with limited empathy. Here’s the thing about impossible loves: we can’t stop believing they’re possible. Zhuang, the plucky and honest protagonist, recognizes it’s doomed from the start, and so do us readers. And yet, Zhuang continues to fill the pages of her journal with discussions of her love and we continue to turn the pages. Cultural, political, and personal differences complicate their relationship, but most difficult is the linguistic difference. When Zhuang arrives in London, her English is very poor. Guo writes her brilliantly—there are verb tense issues, vocabulary misunderstandings, basic syntactical errors—but it reads very true and creates this wonderful image of a foreigner displaced, helpless, and looking for a mooring. Zhuang writes English in her journal daily and makes slow progress until she meets her lover. Suddenly, a blossoming: Zhuang’s intimate awakening is accompanied by a linguistic awakening. As she finds words in this once impossible language, she finds hidden pieces of herself. ‘Love’, this English word: like other English words it has tense. 'Loved' or 'will love' or 'have loved'. All these tenses mean Love is time-limited thing. Not infinite. It only exist in particular period of time. In Chinese, love is '爱' (ai). It has no tense. No past and future. Love in Chinese means a being, a situation, a circumstance. Love is existence, holding past and future. But how much importance do words really have? Can malicious ideas take root even without words to hold them down? What ties two people to each other—words? history? desire? Whatever the answer, Zhuang learns that it’s not love.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    I'm not quite sure how feel about this book. What I liked, as many people mentioned, was the style. I thought the Chinglish felt natural and I often laughed at how Z misplaced words or made silly assumptions. I liked the progression from broken English to someone with a basic grasp of the language. What I didn't like at all was Z herself. Her personality and her actions repulse me on many levels. I'm not sure why a country girl who immigrates to England would simply move in with a man she just m I'm not quite sure how feel about this book. What I liked, as many people mentioned, was the style. I thought the Chinglish felt natural and I often laughed at how Z misplaced words or made silly assumptions. I liked the progression from broken English to someone with a basic grasp of the language. What I didn't like at all was Z herself. Her personality and her actions repulse me on many levels. I'm not sure why a country girl who immigrates to England would simply move in with a man she just met a movie theatre. Isn't it common sense not to move in with a stranger? Especially when she supposedly has a "government job" and has been working in society for at least a few years. Z was also frustrating to identify with, even with my background as an immigrant. She has an idea of how a relationship should be (man works and pays for everything, woman stays at home and cleans/cooks), but she also whines and complains constantly. She is lazy, inconsiderate and often speaks without thinking. She goes on a trip to "find herself", but ends up having sexual encounters with random men while her man stays at home. Reading about the relationship she has with her lover made me cringe at times, because of their interdependency and also the great age difference. It didn't feel like a love story at all, more like two lonely people who started sleeping with each other but cannot connect fully because of the language / culture / age / personality barriers. Which is all fine and well, except I finished the book feeling quite empty and disconnected. It's not because I expect every culture shock story to be about self discovery and hope and cross-cultural romance / yearning, yet I can't help but wonder - what was the point really? She didn't change in any way fundamentally through the experience. She kind of learned English, she found her sexuality, and then I feel she will just go home to her job and then complain and feel like she doesn't fit in.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alice Lippart

    Unconventional, fascinating, wonderful and slightly sad. Very, very good.

  11. 5 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    A bleak romance tale between a Chinese student and an arrogant vegetarian van driver, narrated in oddly distancing Engrish. Like Guo’s other künstlerroman Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth, it paints a painful picture of immigrant life abroad, and kicks One Day so far up its sanctimonious arse, one can barely glimpse Anne Hathaway’s goofy grin from Ursa Minor. The style is slightly similar to Palahniuk’s Pygmy, though this came first, and the humour is less bourgeois satire, more Chairman Mao A bleak romance tale between a Chinese student and an arrogant vegetarian van driver, narrated in oddly distancing Engrish. Like Guo’s other künstlerroman Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth, it paints a painful picture of immigrant life abroad, and kicks One Day so far up its sanctimonious arse, one can barely glimpse Anne Hathaway’s goofy grin from Ursa Minor. The style is slightly similar to Palahniuk’s Pygmy, though this came first, and the humour is less bourgeois satire, more Chairman Mao’s Big Book of Communist Funnies. As a bedtime read it's splendid and lively, then bitter and heartbreaking.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Therese

    YAWN.Couldn't finish it. The female protagonist, Z, is so feeble and boring. She has some kind of love affair with some old hippy guy. Blah. Am totally bummed cuz it was really horrible and maybe I'm just not 'getting' what it is all about to be an Asian woman in modern society. This made me angry with Z's timid comformity and neediness. And I thought the boyfriend was really annoying and disgusting. Meh. Read if you must. But there have to be better things out there to spend your time on. YAWN.Couldn't finish it. The female protagonist, Z, is so feeble and boring. She has some kind of love affair with some old hippy guy. Blah. Am totally bummed cuz it was really horrible and maybe I'm just not 'getting' what it is all about to be an Asian woman in modern society. This made me angry with Z's timid comformity and neediness. And I thought the boyfriend was really annoying and disgusting. Meh. Read if you must. But there have to be better things out there to spend your time on.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Catriona

    First time I've read a whole book in one day in ages, this was addictive, heartbreaking and, so so interesting. Highly recommend. First time I've read a whole book in one day in ages, this was addictive, heartbreaking and, so so interesting. Highly recommend.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    I completely identified with this book because it brilliantly captures the feeling of immersing oneself in a foreign language and culture. What happens when you begin to fluently speak, live and love in another language is fascinating. What the author conveys so well here is how the beliefs impregnated within the language alter how you interact with people and conduct relationships. I loved Z and her practical wisdom. Her 5 week solo travel stint through Europe in many ways felt eerily similar t I completely identified with this book because it brilliantly captures the feeling of immersing oneself in a foreign language and culture. What happens when you begin to fluently speak, live and love in another language is fascinating. What the author conveys so well here is how the beliefs impregnated within the language alter how you interact with people and conduct relationships. I loved Z and her practical wisdom. Her 5 week solo travel stint through Europe in many ways felt eerily similar to my own experience. Fabulous!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Prpages

    I'm not exactly sure how to rate this one. I still feel conflicted about it. 2.5-3 stars. I'm not exactly sure how to rate this one. I still feel conflicted about it. 2.5-3 stars.

  16. 5 out of 5

    brian tanabe

    What a beautiful little book. What a tragic love story. What a sexual coming-of-age tale. What a narrative on the Everyman being a broken man. What an account of the cultural differences between the east and the west. What an illustration of an asian woman in western society. This is a powerful book about love in a modern relationship told through a captivating narrative. In the beginning and in the end it is a love story -- a very sad love story but a completely realistic love story, a true lov What a beautiful little book. What a tragic love story. What a sexual coming-of-age tale. What a narrative on the Everyman being a broken man. What an account of the cultural differences between the east and the west. What an illustration of an asian woman in western society. This is a powerful book about love in a modern relationship told through a captivating narrative. In the beginning and in the end it is a love story -- a very sad love story but a completely realistic love story, a true love story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Yulia

    This is a charming and surprising book, but one that is also very frustrating to read (which is both a compliment and a complaint). Note: It's best to read this book in the voice of someone struggring with Engrish. If you do so, it becoming easier adopting the tone and the mindset of the protagonist. (In my immigrant-raised habit of taking what is said and written with entire seriousness and my snobbery about proper grammar and pronunciation, I was initially offended by the author's choice to wr This is a charming and surprising book, but one that is also very frustrating to read (which is both a compliment and a complaint). Note: It's best to read this book in the voice of someone struggring with Engrish. If you do so, it becoming easier adopting the tone and the mindset of the protagonist. (In my immigrant-raised habit of taking what is said and written with entire seriousness and my snobbery about proper grammar and pronunciation, I was initially offended by the author's choice to write in this broken voice, but then I saw that it couldn't have been otherwise and, really, would have been false if written correctly.) Like the best travel writing, this book immerses the protagonist in the culture she's visiting, not as a tourist but an a true inhabitant. What results are amusing and sometimes quite mournful insights into culture an humanity. Her broken English belies her wisdom and awareness. But it is also about a girl who cannot go far enough from home to escape her insecurities. In her not quite knowing how much she reveals in her confessions, the book presents an honest and stark portrayal of a girl-woman desperate for love, whether to escape her homeland or to escape her loneliness. I appreciated the stark honesty of her spoken words, as well as her jarring admission she wanted to isolate her lover from all his friends and to have him all for herself (which, to anyone aware of healthy relationships, can identify this as a paterrn of a dangerous possessiveness). My main complaint is that her initial connection to "you," her English lover, is never convincingly established. They always seem to occupy different worlds, except perhaps when having sex. This is not a tale about meeting the right person at the wrong time or a tale of miscommunication due to language barriers or cultural differences. There is an inherent divide between the two lovers' needs and goals. While I was constantly baffled by her asking him if they should be together forever (when he states repeatedly that he's a loner and can't make any promises about future), perhaps this was more skillfully done than I'd first perceived. Interestingly, it seems "you" understood this, but "I," the narrator, did not. I was left very saddened by the story and I want to reread it one day, to determine which of my problems with the book were intentional choices on the writer's part and which should simply have been better explained (like her lover's not minding her moving in with her so suddenly, when he valued his personal space so much). But in the end, these are small complaints. I was very satisfied by this book and look forward to reading her other work.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Actually three and a half stars. An extremely interesting book. The question is: who does one sympathize with in this love story? I can't figure it out, and my mind kept changing throughout the text. Is the young Chinese woman (abroad for the first time in London to study English and falling in love with an older British man) to be admired for the clarity and simplicity with which she sees the world? Respected for her earnest and hard-fought struggle with a foreign culture? And empowered by her Actually three and a half stars. An extremely interesting book. The question is: who does one sympathize with in this love story? I can't figure it out, and my mind kept changing throughout the text. Is the young Chinese woman (abroad for the first time in London to study English and falling in love with an older British man) to be admired for the clarity and simplicity with which she sees the world? Respected for her earnest and hard-fought struggle with a foreign culture? And empowered by her sexual awakening? Or is she tedious, possessive, calculating, over-bearing and in fact more radically intolerant of difference than any Brit? Likewise, is the man a complex, inward artist who overcomes a parochial upbringing and difficult youth to find a more authentic and natural mode of existence within a spoiled Western culture? Or is he an insensitive, impatient brat, using the young woman for sex and not willing to give anything more to her? The dictionary motif works well in all kinds of ways. The narrator's "bad" English is actually completely understandable, an interesting fake fiction of agrammatical and improper English written with a perfect knowledge not only of English, but of what kinds of mistakes will be recognizable to English speakers as mistakes, but will still be completely meaningful. This must have something to do with the book as a whole. How "Chinese" is the version of the Chinese woman we meet in this book? To what extent is everything still in Western terms here? And to what extent does this book show that such a question doesn't matter?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Navaneeta

    When I started reading it, I disliked and disdained it. I have had my share of Amy Tan; I use English as second language; I know what it is to get to know a language for the first time. And "Z" here was an insult to all of us. But then halfway through the book I finally realised what the writer was doing (yes! I am that dense; but then it was difficult to get past the whining, needy voice of Zhuang). In her less than competent English (and perception), Zhuang manages to question and subvert all t When I started reading it, I disliked and disdained it. I have had my share of Amy Tan; I use English as second language; I know what it is to get to know a language for the first time. And "Z" here was an insult to all of us. But then halfway through the book I finally realised what the writer was doing (yes! I am that dense; but then it was difficult to get past the whining, needy voice of Zhuang). In her less than competent English (and perception), Zhuang manages to question and subvert all the norms of the western world. She, without much introspection, realizes that English is a sexist language, that "English language is boss of English user", that if you follow the "Alis" you find London a refugee camp. She knows no politics, no geography, yet she notices the "dangerous quality" of the flag in Berlin, concludes that the way to end the war in Iraq is to have a civil war at home, that "more people bleeding in native country, then those mens not making war in other place". By the time we come to the end of the book ("I remember how it rained. The rain was ceaseless, covering the whole forest, the whole mountain, and the whole land."), her language becomes as smooth as poetry (and she also masters the Oxford comma). I almost forgot to write of the human anguish in the book. For an incredibly smart book, the story at heart is one of love, of its beginning and end (!); and to the credit of the author, the emotions are never contrived, always real and personal, both for Zhuang and I, the reader. Go read it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    I loved this short little book. At the start there stands the words: "Nothing in this book is true, except for the love between her and him." The depiction of her, Ms Z's, love for him is so true that the book truly shines. This is reason enough to read the book. In addition how it feels to struggle in a new country with a new language is fabulously described. That a land's culture is entwined with its language is another important aspect of the book.Finally there were interesting tidbits about I loved this short little book. At the start there stands the words: "Nothing in this book is true, except for the love between her and him." The depiction of her, Ms Z's, love for him is so true that the book truly shines. This is reason enough to read the book. In addition how it feels to struggle in a new country with a new language is fabulously described. That a land's culture is entwined with its language is another important aspect of the book.Finally there were interesting tidbits about China and its language that I enjoyed. I so wish Ms Z was a person I knew, so our friendship could continue.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Annamaria

    "Why do we have to study languages? Why do we have to force ourselves to communicate with people? Why is the process of communication so troubled and so painful?" The problem with a boring main character is a boring point of view. Zhuang is the voice through which the story unfolds: she is a Chinese young woman who comes from a family of shoemakers and who's sent to England to learn English, of which she only speaks very few words (thing made clearer by the fact that the book itself starts with h "Why do we have to study languages? Why do we have to force ourselves to communicate with people? Why is the process of communication so troubled and so painful?" The problem with a boring main character is a boring point of view. Zhuang is the voice through which the story unfolds: she is a Chinese young woman who comes from a family of shoemakers and who's sent to England to learn English, of which she only speaks very few words (thing made clearer by the fact that the book itself starts with her writing in a broken one). During her first days she suffers a great deal of loneliness. Soon she falls in love with an English man and within a week they move in together. "I become language handicapped. I got so many problems to understand this world around me. I need you." This man is a 40 something bisexual hippie sculptor who makes it clear from the start that he doesn't wish to settle down and have a family. He's very selfish and, once the novelty of this relationship wears off, he becomes easily stressed at how Zhuang needs him to mentor and guide her through the intricacies of his language and culture. Sure thing Zhuang doesn't make things easier on her part either: she's clingy and needy, doesn't try to meet new people and only wants to be with him, always with him, forever with him. Such is her obsession claustrophobic and unhealthy that he convinces her to leave on a self-discovery trip through Europe on her own to which I thought to myself "Oh finally, she's finally going to break out of her shell!". Not at all. She is just not interested in anything, doesn't want to discover new things, she just wants to be with him. She's so naive that is easily convinced by strangers to sleep in their houses and have rapey outdoor sex with them. How she's never concerned with murder everytime she follows them in places she doesn't know in a country of which she doesn't understand the language is beyond me. In the end Zhuang doesn't grow at all, she starts off plain and ends in the same way. What I was expecting from this book was an account on cultural differences between two countries so far away from each other, I was expecting a journey through language learning in the place in which it is spoken and the beauties of fluency once it is finally acquired. Zhuang just didn't care about any of this. Sure, every now and then she would make clever remarks about the differences between Chinese and English when it comes to grammatical structure and tenses and how senseless this new language seemed to be such as when she had her first taste of the Bard's poetry: "What this “’tis,” “execut’st” and “sett’st”? Shakespeare can writing that, my spelling not too bad then." But in the end what I got was an angsty young girl who just didn't want to go abroad and once she did she just wanted to be with one man for the rest of her staying. Disappointed is saying the least.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Philip

    Well-written coming-of-age story of a dysfunctional cross-cultural romance told with a thoroughly unique voice. Guo nails both Z's evolving language skills as well as her "stranger in a strange land" take on the realities and absurdities of living in a totally alien culture. I didn't develop any particular sympathy for Z's unnamed British lover - and not a huge amount for Z herself, for that matter - but the writing style alone held my interest more than any similar "female novel" has done in a Well-written coming-of-age story of a dysfunctional cross-cultural romance told with a thoroughly unique voice. Guo nails both Z's evolving language skills as well as her "stranger in a strange land" take on the realities and absurdities of living in a totally alien culture. I didn't develop any particular sympathy for Z's unnamed British lover - and not a huge amount for Z herself, for that matter - but the writing style alone held my interest more than any similar "female novel" has done in a long time. This novel was recommended by a friend for inclusion on my Goodreads "Unconventional Style/Voice" list, and it well deserves its place there!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vio

    Did I mention it is my third Xiaolu Guo? All of them in 2019? If not, mark my words and remember this name. ;) I don't have anything in particular to say about this book, except that the prose* flows, I read it quite quickly, like it happened with my first Xiaolu Guo as well. The thing is - I was planning on reading A ... Dictionary while on the train/bus, but apparently I coudn't let my hands of this book and here I am, wondering what I am going to read next on a train/bus etc. Big drama. Yeah, X Did I mention it is my third Xiaolu Guo? All of them in 2019? If not, mark my words and remember this name. ;) I don't have anything in particular to say about this book, except that the prose* flows, I read it quite quickly, like it happened with my first Xiaolu Guo as well. The thing is - I was planning on reading A ... Dictionary while on the train/bus, but apparently I coudn't let my hands of this book and here I am, wondering what I am going to read next on a train/bus etc. Big drama. Yeah, Xiaolu Guo for president!!! *thank you, master L.!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    DNF at 35 pages I'm sorry this is 100% a me thing but I cannot STAND when books are written in an accent, whether that be a southern twang, a british accent, or from a person who doesn't know English well, I simply get driven insane and can't enjoy the story. I flipped ahead a bunch and it looks like the character learns English over time in the book but I'm sorry I just will not enjoy this book because that's going to be the only thing I notice about it. I don't want to offend anyone on this bec DNF at 35 pages I'm sorry this is 100% a me thing but I cannot STAND when books are written in an accent, whether that be a southern twang, a british accent, or from a person who doesn't know English well, I simply get driven insane and can't enjoy the story. I flipped ahead a bunch and it looks like the character learns English over time in the book but I'm sorry I just will not enjoy this book because that's going to be the only thing I notice about it. I don't want to offend anyone on this because I understand the character doesn't know english and that's why the author wrote it this way, but I feel the same way with books written in other dialects/accents (ex; The Help, Huckleberry Finn, etc.) I have no problem listening to say booktubers with all different accents, but reading... idk man it's just always been a killer for me. I'm sure this is a wonderful story but that's just something I know I PERSONALLY will not be able to look past.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Wu

    My boyfriend (who is English and reads the Guardian) gave me this book. My flatmate (who is Chinese and reads Grazia) borrowed it without asking. That's the trouble with talking to your flatmate about books. This week she's gone off to Austria with my copy of Candy (by Mian Mian) because I made the mistake of telling her how much I was enjoying it. Back to this one by Xiaolu Guo. I avoided it for a while because it's written in bad English. My boyfriend found this cute but it's not good for me. I My boyfriend (who is English and reads the Guardian) gave me this book. My flatmate (who is Chinese and reads Grazia) borrowed it without asking. That's the trouble with talking to your flatmate about books. This week she's gone off to Austria with my copy of Candy (by Mian Mian) because I made the mistake of telling her how much I was enjoying it. Back to this one by Xiaolu Guo. I avoided it for a while because it's written in bad English. My boyfriend found this cute but it's not good for me. I am very imitative and when I read bad English I start writing it. When I did start reading it, I read a chapter aloud to my flatmate and we were both in hysterics. When I looked for it next it was gone. In my flatmate's absence, I raided her room and retrieved it so now I have finished it and can write a review. It's about a Chinese woman (called Z) who comes to England and has a romance with an English man (who reads the Guardian). As their relationship develops, her English improves, she learns how to be naked, have sex all day, use a condom, and, most importantly, because of the nature of an English man's love, to masturbate. She also learns that love means different things in Chinese and English, which is true. English people say they love each other when they mean they are fond of each other. Chinese people would rather not say it but instead demonstrate it through a lifetime of devotion. The narrative is a bit disjointed but original. It takes the form of a notebook containing entries on words Z is learning. The bad English (which improves) is not always quite how we Chinese write English but it is often close. Some of the notes on language are very insightful. I disagreed with some of them and sometimes Z's innocence struck a false note, becoming merely a rhetorical device. The ending is moving. Maybe it will make you cry.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Biblio Curious

    Whoever designed this cover should have his license revoked. Seriously. My copy travelled the world with me because I didn't want to lose it in storage. I only brought 5 non-work related books with me and this is one of them. The title is perfect, I saw that first at the bookstore, quickly followed by shame at the cover!! I almost didn't buy it. But the contents... unlike anything I'd ever seen in a novel! It's a diary of a Chinese Expat learning English in London. Her entries are in dictionary f Whoever designed this cover should have his license revoked. Seriously. My copy travelled the world with me because I didn't want to lose it in storage. I only brought 5 non-work related books with me and this is one of them. The title is perfect, I saw that first at the bookstore, quickly followed by shame at the cover!! I almost didn't buy it. But the contents... unlike anything I'd ever seen in a novel! It's a diary of a Chinese Expat learning English in London. Her entries are in dictionary form. The first entry is in very 'broken' English and it advances from there. Exquisite. By the end, she's damn near fluent! Don't let the cover fool you. There are some steamy scenes and parts are embarassing. But if you're interested in language learning, fringe writing style, 'love' stories or have expat experience, it'll be a great book. Also for the 'immigrant' experience. My copy made it back home with me. Safe and sound on my linguistics shelf ^.^

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sofia

    I absolutely adored this book. I feel my review will not be good enough to express my feelings. I love how simple, deep and funny it was. It was how life is. This book is about love, it's about, growing up, it's about being a woman, it's about being a traveler and an immigrant at the same time, it's about mutual understanding in so many ways, it's about language. This book it's all about life in almost 400 pages. I highly recommend it to everyone. Wonderful. Wonderful. I absolutely adored this book. I feel my review will not be good enough to express my feelings. I love how simple, deep and funny it was. It was how life is. This book is about love, it's about, growing up, it's about being a woman, it's about being a traveler and an immigrant at the same time, it's about mutual understanding in so many ways, it's about language. This book it's all about life in almost 400 pages. I highly recommend it to everyone. Wonderful. Wonderful.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Banafsheh

    Easy to read, but generally a bit disappointing . I was waiting for the moment to feel the love, but couldn't feel it between Z and the man. Couldn't feel sympathy to Z or the man either. Little garden and the details of trees and plants and also sculptures were my favorites. Worth reading from the cultural point of view. Loved the languages comparison. Easy to read, but generally a bit disappointing . I was waiting for the moment to feel the love, but couldn't feel it between Z and the man. Couldn't feel sympathy to Z or the man either. Little garden and the details of trees and plants and also sculptures were my favorites. Worth reading from the cultural point of view. Loved the languages comparison.

  29. 4 out of 5

    sarah

    God this was so beautiful and melancholic. Loved this so much that I finished it in a day. I really felt that I was transported to London and the quiet house and it's garden. I'll definitely cherish this book 💖 God this was so beautiful and melancholic. Loved this so much that I finished it in a day. I really felt that I was transported to London and the quiet house and it's garden. I'll definitely cherish this book 💖

  30. 5 out of 5

    Baba

    Off-beat and humorous, yet poignant love story told in the first person, in English by a Chinese woman who has just arrived in England and is learning English. A very original idea, that could have been better executed. 6 out of 12.

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