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A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers

by Xiaolu Guo

Set over a twelve month period, Z leaves her homeland of China to ‘find herself’ in London, armed only with her Chinese-English Dictionary. An unpredictable story, simply because with each page turned, I had no idea what Z was going to do next, and, quite worryingly, she is so naive and trusting of strangers. At times, the novel is difficult to read because of the stilted English but you soon get to grips with the voice. In the end, a very nice read and worthy of its status on the Orange shortlist.

Extract

You laughing when you hear the names. 'I never knew flutes grew on trees,' you say. It seems I am big comedy to you. I not understand why so funny. 'You can't say your Rs. It's fruit not flute,' you explain to me. 'A flute is a musical instrument. But your Chinese name seems just right: a fig tree really is a fruit tree without flowers.'
'How a tree can just have fruit without having flower first?' I ask.
Like teacher, you describe how insect climbs into fruit to fertilise seed.
What 'fertilise'? I need looking in Concise Chinese-English Dictionary.
'Fertilise' make me think Chairman Mao. He likes fertiliser. Was big Mao thing increase productivity, increase plants. Maybe that why China, biggest peasants population country, still alive and become stronger after using fertiliser on the soil.

Parallels

Lost in Translation by Charlie Croker
Village of Stone by Xiaolu Guo
 

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