A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

This is the kind of complex, thought-provoking read that you can still read in the sunshine. The protagonist, Zhuang, or "Z," is a recent London immigrant from China. Her voice is outstanding, endearing, troubled, and utterly relatable. You won't forget this short but expansive story about love. . . among other things.

— Will


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 language, and the man, she adores. Zhuang—or “Z,” to tongue-tied foreigners—has come to London to study English, but finds herself adrift, trapped in a cycle of cultural gaffes and grammatical mishaps. Then she meets an Englishman who changes everything, leading her into a world of self-discovery. She soon realizes that, in the West, “love” does not always mean the same as in China, and that you can learn all the words in the English language and still not understand your lover. And as the novel progresses with steadily improving grammar and vocabulary, Z's evolving voice makes her quest for comprehension all the more poignant. With sparkling wit, Xiaolu Guo has created an utterly original novel about identity and the cultural divide.

About the Author

Xiaolu Guo published six books in China before moving to London in 2002. The English translation of Village of Stone was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her first novel written in English, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, was shortlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, and Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth, published in 2008, was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. She is also a successful director of feature films, including She, a Chinese and UFO in Her Eyes, and documentaries; her work has premiered at the Venice Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival, and other venues all over the world. She was named as one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists in 2013.


Praise For…

"Funny, childlike and wise all at once."

Los Angeles Times


“What makes this novel winsome is hearing the authentic voice of a young woman — bewildered, self-deprecating, funny, wise — as she navigates the world on her own.”

USA Today


“Endearing. . . . Concise takes us into a new territory, all the more exciting for its virginity.”

Chicago Sun-Times


“A fast, breezy read, don't be so easily entertained as to miss the many nuances-beyond the most obvious definitions are deeper, more satisfying meanings.”

San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details
ISBN: 9780307278401
ISBN-10: 0307278409
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: June 10th, 2008
Pages: 304
Language: English