Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth

By Xiaolu Guo
(Nan A. Talese, Hardcover, 9780385525923, 176pp.)

Publication Date: August 5, 2008

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From the author of the 2007 Orange Prize finalist A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers comes a wholly original and thoroughly captivating coming-of-age story that follows a bright, impassioned young woman as she rushes headlong into the maelstrom of a rapidly changing Beijing to chase her dreams.

Twenty-one year old Fenfang Wang has traveled one thousand eight hundred miles to seek her fortune in contemporary urban Beijing, and has no desire to return to the drudgery of the sweet potato fields back home. However, Fenfang is ill-prepared for what greets her: a Communist regime that has outworn its welcome, a city under rampant destruction and slap-dash development, and a sexist attitude seemingly more in keeping with her peasant upbringing than the country’s progressive capital. Yet Fenfang is determined to live a modern life. With courage and purpose, she forges ahead, and soon lands a job as a film extra. While playing roles like woman-walking-over-the bridge and waitress-wiping-a-table help her eke out a meager living, Fenfang comes under the spell of two unsuitable young men, keeps her cupboard stocked with UFO noodles, and after mastering the fever and tumult of the city, ultimately finds her true independence in the one place she never expected.

At once wry and moving, Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth gives us a clear-eyed glimpse into the precarious and fragile state of China’s new identity and asserts Xiaolu Guo as her generation’s voice of modern China.

About the Author

XIAOLU GUO was born in a fishing village in southern China. After graduating from the Beijing Film Academy, she wrote several books published in China before she moved to London in 2002. She was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the 2007 International Women’s Film Festival for her first feature “How Is Your Fish Today?,” and is the recipient of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival Cinefondation Residency grant based in Paris. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, her first novel published in the U.S., was shortlisted for the 2007 Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction. She divides her time between London and Beijing, and is at work on a new novel.

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