Once Upon A Time in the East: A Story of Growing up (Paperback)
  • Once Upon A Time in the East: A Story of Growing up (Paperback)
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Once Upon A Time in the East: A Story of Growing up (Paperback)

(author)
£9.99
Paperback 336 Pages / Published: 01/02/2018
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Shortlisted for the 2017 Costa Book Awards Biography Award

As I moved from one city to the next, from one country to the next, I have had to abandon the people I have known, and the places I've loved and lived in. In the end, I am always alone. I always feel very alienated anywhere I go or stay, either in a hotel room or in someone's house. I never feel I belong to anywhere and now I have come to terms with it.

Xiaolu Guo meets her parents for the first time when she is almost seven. They are strangers to her.

When she is born her parents hand her over to a childless peasant couple in the mountains. Aged two, and suffering from malnutrition on a diet of yam leaves, they leave Xiaolu with her illiterate grandparents in a fishing village on the East China Sea. It's a strange beginning.

A Wild Swans for a new generation, Once Upon a Time in the East takes Xiaolu from a run-down shack to film school in a rapidly changing Beijing, navigating the everyday peculiarity of modern China: censorship, underground art, Western boyfriends.

In 2002 she leaves Beijing on a scholarship to study in Britain. Now, after a decade in Europe, her tale of East to West resonates with the insight that can only come from someone who is both an outsider and at home.

Xiaolu Guo's extraordinary memoir is a handbook of life lessons. How to be an artist when censorship kills creativity and the only job you can get is writing bad telenovela scripts. How to be a woman when female babies are regularly drowned at birth and sexual abuse is commonplace. Most poignantly of all: how to love when you've never been shown how.

Named one of Granta's best young novelists, Xiaolu Guo is a Chinese documentary film-maker and author who is best-known for her exploration of the themes of loneliness, identity and cultural dislocation. Her novels include the Waterstones booksellers' favourite, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction), 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth and I Am China.

Publisher: Vintage Publishing
ISBN: 9781784702946
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 268 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 21 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

'Stunning...This book will make your jaw drop, then clench in anger.' - Helen Brown, Daily Telegraph 

'Riveting...Guo is an angrier, bolder, more ambitious figure than her forebears' - The Times 

'Utterly compelling... She writes superbly about her struggle to escape the constraints of gender, poverty and state interference. This extraordinary memoir will enhance her burgeoning reputation.' - Ian Critchley, Sunday Times 

'Guo is rebellious, flamboyant and fundamentally optimistic...fascinating.' - Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday 

'Aside from the fast-paced plot, this is most interesting for its probing portrayal of Guo's ambivalent relationship with her homeland... An impressive feature of this moving and often exhilarating book is the brutality of her portrait of her parents.' - Lara Feigel, Financial Times

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