A brave young woman negotiates Beijing life in search of love and friendship in the daring new novel by Xiaolu Guo, Orange Prize shortlisted author and 'one of China's most successful literary exports' (Guardian)
‘So I was the 6787th person in Beijing wanting to act in the film and TV industry. There were 6786 young and beautiful, or ugly and old people before me trying to get a role. I felt the competition, but compared with 1.6 billion people in China, 6786 was only the population of my village. I felt an urge to conquer this new village.’
Life as a film extra in Beijing might seem hard, but Fenfang – the spirited heroine of Xiaolu Guo’s new novel – won’t be defeated. She has travelled 1800 miles to seek her fortune in the city, and has no desire to return to the never-ending sweet potato fields back home. Determined to live a modern life, Fenfang works as a cleaner in the Young Pioneer’s movie theatre, falls in love with unsuitable men and keeps her kitchen cupboard stocked with UFO instant noodles. As Fenfang might say, Heavenly Bastard in the Sky, isn’t it about time I got my lucky break?
Xiaolu Guo was born in a fishing village in south China. She studied film at the Beijing Film Academy and published six books in China before she moved to London in 2002. The English translation of Village of Stone
(Chatto, 2004) 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 published by Chatto in 2007 and shortlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction. Xiaolu's film career continues to flourish: her feature, How is Your Fish Today?
(2006) was screened at international film festivals and the ICA, London. She is currently Cannes Film Festival Cinefondation resident, based in Paris.
Guo's prose, combining magic and the matter-of-fact, is a joy to read.,Its impudent, hand-on-hip attitude cannot fail to charm.