Who would believe that reading a novel written in deliberately bad English could be as uplifting an experience as this? But Xiaolu Guo, writing in English for the first time, has pulled it off in a novel that has the potential to be as successful as A History of Tractors in Ukranian or Lost in Translation. Her narrator, who calls herself Z because no one can pronounce her name, is a 23-year-old Chinese language student who has come to London to learn English. When the book begins she can barely ask for a cup of tea, but when language comes, so does love. As she gets to know British culture she also falls for an older English man who lives a resolutely bachelor life in Hackney. It's a million miles away from the small Chinese town she comes from, where her parents want nothing more for her than that she should follow them into the shoe business. Z learns about sex, humour, companionship and passion, but she also learns the painful truth that language is also a barrier and the more you know about it, the less you understand. Written in short chapters, each the definition of a word, this is a brilliantly clever book that pokes fun at England and China, explores the endless possibili
Xiaolu Guo was born in 1973 in a fishing village in south China. Having studied film at the Beijing Film Academy, she published a number of books in China and made the prize-winning film Love in the Internet Age (1999). She moved to London in 2002, to pursue her film-making, and began a diary in English which was the seed for the novel A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers. The English translation of Village of Stone was published by Chatto in 2004.