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The latest novel from Orange Prize finalist Xiaolu Guo is the enchantingly comic story of a young Chinese woman's life as a film extra in hyper-modern, tumultuous Beijing.
Though twenty-one-year-old Fenfang Wang has traveled 1,800 miles to seek her fortune in urban Beijing, she is ill-prepared for what greets her: a Communist regime that has outworn its welcome, a city in slap-dash development, and a sexist attitude more in keeping with her peasant upbringing than the country's progressive capital. But after mastering the fever and tumult of the city, Fenfang ultimately finds her true independence in the one place she never expected.
“An engrossing portrait of a charmingly chaotic young woman.”
“Twenty Fragments resembles a Chekhov story in containing, under its brief, chatty surface, an enormous world.... It's a little book that's so moving, you'll want to read it twice.”
“Energetic.... Fenfang Wang, the book's endearing heroine is a young woman whose dynamic narration offers an intriguing glimpse into what it means to come of age in China.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
Praise from the UK for Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth:
“Xiaolu Guo’s literary voice remains a breath of the freshest air imaginable.”
“Xiaolu Guo is an instinctive, humane witness, her atmospheric, unusually physical narratives are alive and attractively insistent, inspired variations on the theme of quest … Guo’s observations will make you smile and remember; she will also nudge the reader towards thoughts about language, culture, and the very business of living.”
“[A] sharp, unpretentiously sophisticated piece.”
“[Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth] is a graceful, subtle novel…a piece of art that portrays human determination through evocative photos and simple narration.”
“A delightful peek under the veil of today’s China.”
“This book is vacuum-packed, refrigerated, a novel that keeps its cool… impressively clear, unvarnished, honest.”
“Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth shines with the utterly blameless, scarily fragile arrogance of youth itself.”
“Slangy, direct, often disarming, the novel has an immediacy that brings [Xiaolu Guo’s heroine] Fenfang to life.”
—Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
“[Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth’s] impudent, hand-on-hips attitude cannot fail to charm.”