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A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Xiaolu Guo

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8185911,119 (3.48)91
Member:heterotopic
Title:A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
Authors:Xiaolu Guo
Info:Random House Uk Ltd (2008), Perfect Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:asian lit

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A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Guo Xiaolu (2007)

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Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
“A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers” by Xiaolu Guo



This wonderful novel is about a 23-year old woman whose parents send her to England from China to learn English. Initially she stays at a boarding house with other Chinese people but she grows tired of their curfew quickly.


She meets a man 20-plus years her senior at a movie theater. They go on some dates. One afternoon as they are in the park talking about something he responds in conversation to her with the phrase “be my guest.” Her cultural difference combined with a not strong grasp of the English language and any of its slang causes some funny incidents. “Be my guest,” Z says in China means quite literally come stay with me. Therefore, Z. takes what he says quite literally and packs all her belongs into her suitcase and moves in with him.

It is just the first of many large misunderstandings caused by cultural differences and taking the English Language literally. Each chapter header begins with a different definition of an English word and the character’s personal experience with the meaning of that word. As the novel progresses the narrators English and grammar improves and the reading becomes smoother.

While you are reading this novel, keep in mind, the Chinese language has no verbs. There are many philosophical musings in it as well as food, sex, plants and vocabulary.
  TamaraJCollins | Mar 10, 2016 |
“A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers” by Xiaolu Guo



This wonderful novel is about a 23-year old woman whose parents send her to England from China to learn English. Initially she stays at a boarding house with other Chinese people but she grows tired of their curfew quickly.


She meets a man 20-plus years her senior at a movie theater. They go on some dates. One afternoon as they are in the park talking about something he responds in conversation to her with the phrase “be my guest.” Her cultural difference combined with a not strong grasp of the English language and any of its slang causes some funny incidents. “Be my guest,” Z says in China means quite literally come stay with me. Therefore, Z. takes what he says quite literally and packs all her belongs into her suitcase and moves in with him.

It is just the first of many large misunderstandings caused by cultural differences and taking the English Language literally. Each chapter header begins with a different definition of an English word and the character’s personal experience with the meaning of that word. As the novel progresses the narrators English and grammar improves and the reading becomes smoother.

While you are reading this novel, keep in mind, the Chinese language has no verbs. There are many philosophical musings in it as well as food, sex, plants and vocabulary.
  TamaraJCollins | Mar 10, 2016 |
A funny, depressing story of a Chinese woman who stuggles with culture shock and feels rejected by her British lover. While the plot seems a bit forced at times, the main character manages to retain her innocence and charm in circumstances that would make most of us become resentful and/or bitter. Along for the ride, we get a taste of what it's like to live/love in a foreign country. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Zhuang , or Z, is a young woman that has come from China to London for a year to learn English. Z is twenty-three and meets a man twenty years her senior. The account is more of a diary from Z’s perspective at the beginning Z’s English is not good and it is harder to understand her meaning. As the book progresses so does her English. I liked Z’s character. I thought she trusted people much too quickly and it annoyed me. I’m sure though if you don’t grasp the language extremely well and don’t know all the customs you would trust people that are nice to you, but still it bugged me. I liked the way she persevered and learned more about the western world. ( )
  i.should.b.reading | Jan 15, 2016 |
This book is narrated in the first person by a Chinese girl who comes to London to learn English. She is a girl from rural China and is naïve. She by chance meets a middle aged bisexual man in a movie theater and the next day moves in with him. He is a sculptor and is struggling with his sexuality and art. They've difficulties adjusting which is partly cultural, partly due to their different needs and expectations. As time goes by she gets good at English. By the end of the year when her visa expires they are at crossroads in their relationship and then she goes back to China.

The novel starts with writing in the style of a person who does not know English. It is quite gimmicky. We don't sympathize with either of the characters as both by the strange choices they make alienate the reader. So by the end we are not sorry or sad for anyone as the relationship was obviously doomed from the start and it is so apparent to all except the two of them. A translated book and I will give it 2.5/5 stars. ( )
  mausergem | Aug 31, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
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Rien dans ce livre n'est vrai à l'exception de l'amour entre elle et lui.
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For the man who lost my manuscript in Copenhagen airport, and knows how a woman lost her language.
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"What are you thinking?"
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307278409, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:22 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Written in a series of short chapters, with each one becoming the definition of a word, a novel about a young Chinese woman caught in the cultural confusion of England explores the endless possibilities for misunderstanding between East and West.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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