Language and love collide in this inventive novel of a young Chinese woman's 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.
A young woman from rural China learns how to comprehend "love" and "heartbreak" in English in this quirky, touching novel. Zhuang, or "Z" to tongue-tied foreigners, arrives in London at age 23 after being dispatched by her parents to get an education. Her immersion and painful education are laid bare to readers, who witness Z's vocabulary, grammar and understanding blossom throughout her diarylike account, sped along by an intense romance with a man met at the cinema. Her consuming love begins promisingly, but her failure to interpret her lover's lifestyle as a hippie drifter (who's 20 years her senior) alerts readers to potential trouble in paradise, even while such a notion remains beyond Z's not-yet-jaded imagination. The novel overflows with gentle jokes about culture shock and language barriers including Z's inability to understand why Brits bother talking about the weather when it's obvious-but there are deeper observations beneath the humor. Z's comically earnest exploration of a sex shop illuminates the pathos of Western seediness, and her encounters with men reveal both the exploitative and meaningful sides of romance. Z's unique, evolving voice fits perfectly for a heroine whose naïveté is matched by a willingness to relay the truth. (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information