Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers – Book #70

Title A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary
for Lovers

Author Xiaolu Guo
Genre Adult Fiction
Pages 283
Publisher Doubleday
Copyright 2007

Synopsis (from web-site)

The novel tells the story of a Chinese woman who is sent by her parents to study in London. She soon renames herself "Z" because she finds that no one can pronounce her name, and then meets an English man without a name. Through the encounter, they both get to discover their own identity as well as the impossibility of two lovers to communicate.

The novel is deliberately written in the heroine's broken English, to begin with, in a post modern, near experimental dictionary form. With each chapter this broken English gradually improves, reflecting the improvement of the heroines's own English over the year in which the novel is set.

Why I read It
It was on a list of first person novels Lisa had (as research for her own book). The title sounded interesting enough, plus it met my ongoing criteria of being written by a female AND a foreign author – two for one.

The Good
It was interesting to see how she used the English language. It seems there is a lot of logic to the misspoken English used by an Asian novice. Also the imperative on the practical, or the direct, was enlightening. When “accused” of being funny she replies: “No. We Chinese don’t understand humour. We look funny just because the cultural difference, and we just being too honest.”

The Bad
I didn’t get the whole self discovery angle and thus the plot was a little lost for me.

The Ugly (my opinion)
Enjoyable and easy to read, but ultimately it was totally forgettable. I won’t remember anything about this book in about a month.

The Truth? (other reviews),
Powell's Books
The Guardian
The Independent

Mormon Mentions

Author Biography

Xiaolu Guo (Simplified Chinese 郭小櫓 guô xiǎo lǔ, born 1973[1]) is a Chinese novelist and filmmaker, who uses film and literary language to explore themes of alienation, memory, personal journeys, daily tragedies and develops her own vision of China's past and its future in a global environment.

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