I see myself on a boat, steering far out to sea, to the seas of the Village of Stone, and as the waves grow clearer in my memory, I find myself moving farther away from this enormous city, from these enormous buildings and crowds -Coral and her Frisbee-obsessed boyfriend Red live on the ground floor of a cramped tower block in the megalopolis that is modern-day Beijing. The epitome of disaffected, unfulfilled youth, their already fragile existence is shattered by the arrival of a mysterious fishy package - as the smells of the sea flood her home, Coral is transported back to a traumatic childhood dominated by solitude, fear and shame. Born on a boat during a storm, and orphaned soon after, Coral was raised by silent grandparents amongst the stern and superstitious fishermen of the remote Village of Stone. Shunned from birth as a bringer of ill fortune, and exposed to the malevolent, threatening forces of a closed-off society, Coral immersed herself in the minutiae of the landscape around her. At fifteen, she escaped to the big city and shut the door on the darkness of her past.
Xiaolu Guo was born in a fishing village in the south of China in 1973. She was awarded an MA in Film from the Beijing Film Academy in 2000 and has worked as a novelist, essayist, screenwriter and filmmaker. Having studied documentary film at the National Film and Television School in London, she now lives in Berkshire and is working on a new novel.