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Paperback A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers Book

ISBN: 0701180382

ISBN13: 9780701180386

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good


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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. From one of our most important contemporary Chinese authors: a novel of language and love that tells one young Chinese woman's story of her journey to the West--and her attempts to understand the...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

"The loneliness comes to me in certain hours everyday"

Zhuang, a young girl from a manufacturing town on the South China Sea, is sent to England to learn the language so she can further the interests of her family's business. She records her progress in the notebook that is this novel - words, impressions, incomprehensions, loneliness. Each chapter starts with a dictionary definition. The book begins in severely broken English - "Is unbelievabal, I arriving in London, `Heathlow Airport'..." -- with observations of the city and the people around her, and progresses to more abstract themes as the writer's English improves. Zhuang gives up her name because English people cannot pronounce it, calling herself Z, and boards with a Chinese family. In her second month of diaspora she meets a man in a cinema and moves in with him. Twenty years her senior, a bisexual drifter and artist, subject to depression and averse to commitment, he seems an unlikely object of her love and passion. As Z becomes more proficient in her new language the book offers insight into her cultural point of view. Finding her lover selfish, Z observes that the Chinese are not encouraged to use the word "self" since it is the antithesis of collectivism and the self is the enemy of the communist party. On a holiday to Wales the profound silence saps her: "It doesn't matter if one speaks Chinese or English here; it doesn't matter if one is mute or deaf. Language is not important anymore. Only the simple physical existence matters in the nature." I found the beginning of the book hard to read because the neophyte English doesn't allow enough depth of expression. As the language develops, Z's alienation is beautifully displayed though she defines herself somewhat narrowly in terms of her love for the English artist (who is never named for us). As evocative as this book is, it feels a bit limited by the author's self-imposed "language barrier." A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers is, I believe, Xiaolu Guo's first novel in English, written while she was acquiring the language. She is a film-maker and has two published novels in Chinese. I wish I could read them and discover all that she has to say when allowing herself a full range of expression. I'm sure she will write more books in English, and I look forward to reading them. Linda Bulger, 2008

Great exploration on cultural difference

As a Chinese, I think this book truly protraited the deep-inside cultural difference between China and the west (at least Britain). I sometimes feel the same pain of misunderstanding as her when I am in the States. She is NOT a representative image of average Chinese girl today, (especially the ones in the cities) however, the underlying philosophy, e.g. attitude toward love, definition of relationship, intimacy, etc. are very genuinely presented in the book. I love it.

Incredibly Poignant

For anyone that has ever felt displaced, the moment can feel absolutely overwhelming, never-ending and almost tragic. It could be moving to a different neighborhood, the first day on the job or starting a new semester at school. Everyone has been there. Xiaolu Guo narrates a story of severe displacement, of a young girl from China, Z, moving to London to learn English. Z not only has to learn a different language and culture, she has to grow into adulthood in a country foreign to her. The author's voice is paradoxically both, heart-breaking and comical. I read this book in one sitting and a 15-minute train ride and it had me laughing one minute, crying the next.

you've got to work hard to write this "bad"

I ordered this book after seeing a review in an Australian women's site. It is just shipping in the US now. I'm also amazed that there are only two (male) reviewers! It's a great book. Funny, sad, touching. A very Chinese take on romance. I personally also love novels that play with language such as Clockwork Orange and Riddley Walker. To me, this novel is in that category.

A Novel, an Adventure....and a Cultural Education

It's surprising - to me anyway - that I am the first customer to review this book. I bought it because I am interested in cross-cultural understanding, and hoped I would gain some insights. Having read it - and gained more insights than I could have dreamed of - I assumed everyone in the world must have read it by now, and many would have hastened to review it here. Xiaolu Guo (call her "Z," most people in the book do) is a young woman who arrives in London from China to complete a course in English. Her story, each chapter of which is based on an English word, is just fascinating. At a fairly early stage she begins a relationship with an Englishman, and their mutual struggle to find a deep bond, (well, to find love I suppose), is painful, endearing, frustrating and at times hilarious. Xiaolu's commentary on English customs, cuisine and quirks is genuinely profound. As a Westerner, I found it hugely helpful in my battle to understand the differences between the West and China; I recommend it highly to people planning a visit to China, or planning serious dealings with Chinese. Of course I wonder how much of it is autobiographical, and my guess is "most" - in which case Xiaolu is a powerful, brilliant and very funny woman. But even if it is predominantly fiction, it is a great read. Some may be put off by the writing style - "deliberately bad English" - but I think this is one of the strengths of the book. It certainly enhances its authenticity. In this review I have focused on the educational value of the book, and perhaps even its value as a travel narrative (her trip through Europe is a novella in its own right). But for those who would like to read a great, funny, and at times very erotic novel - you won't be disappointed either.

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers Mentions in Our Blog

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers in On the Page and On the Streets
On the Page and On the Streets
Published by Chris Viola • May 11, 2016

I recently came across a travel website that proclaimed, “London has a rich literary tradition that permeates its streets.”

It’s true, of course. I know the first time I saw London’s cobblestone back streets, I immediately pictured Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger tearing through the crowds, possibly having just picked someone’s pocket. For my money, Dickens’ vivid descriptions of 1830s London are just as compelling as his characters.

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