Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers

Title: A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
Author: Xiaolu Guo
Vintage, 2008

24-year-old Z leaves her Chinese hometown to study English in London for a year. The culture clash is complete and she feels maddeningly lonely. When she finds love and passion with an older man, she is happy for a while, until she also discovers the alien Western concepts of individuality, privacy and self-sufficiency.

This is a thought-provoking novel that makes you look at Western culture and our notion of what love is in a new way and it feels refreshing that not all books out of China (and other totalitarian states) read like the authors' personal vendettas against the country they fled. Nothing is all bad. The prose reflects Z's struggle to master the English language and also reveals how closely related language and culture really is.

Apart from people who enjoy a good read, this novel would be perfect for a reading group since there are an abundance of things to discuss, and also for students who are good at English and therefore can appreciate Z's "bad" language and what it says about its native speakers.


Zabina said...

Denna ska jag plocka upp så fort jag har lite andrum från skolan! Den låter intressant - mer intressant än att skriva en B-uppsats på föräldrars inverkan på sina barn i "Sula".


Camilla said...

Just det! Du har gått på B-kursen nu... Jag älskade att skriva uppsatser. Fast det kanske inte förvånar dig?

Zabina said...

Det förvånar mig inte det minsta :) Jag älskar också att skriva, det vet du ju, det är researchen jag tycker är lite småtråkig.