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