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He's very selfish and, once the novelty of this relationship wears off, he becomes easily stressed at how Zhuang is in constant need of a mentor that'll guide her through the intricacies of his language and culture. Sure thing Zhuang doesn't make things easier on her part either. She's clingy and needy, doesn't try to create new relationships on her own and only wants to be with him, always with him, forever with him.


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Such is her obsession claustrophobic and unhealthy that he convinces her to leave on a self-discovery trip throughout Europe on her own. To that I thought to myself "Oh finally we'll start seeing some sort of character development! Not at all. She is just not interested in anything, doesn't want to discover new things, she just wants to be with him. She's so naive that is easily convinced by strangers to sleep in their houses and have rapey outdoor sex with them.

How she's never concerned with murder everytime she follows them into places she doesn't know in a country of which she doesn't understand the native tongue is beyond me. In the end Zhuang doesn't grow at all, she starts off plain and ends in the same way.


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  8. What I was expecting from this book was an account on cultural differences between two countries so far away from each others. I was expecting a journey through language acquisition in the place in which it is spoken and the beauties of fluency once it was acquired. Zhuang just didn't care about any of this. Disappointed is saying the least. Dec 01, Josh rated it liked it.

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    Actually three and a half stars. An extremely interesting book. The question is: who does one sympathize with in this love story? I can't figure it out, and my mind kept changing throughout the text.

    Is the young Chinese woman abroad for the first time in London to study English and falling in love with an older British man to be admired for the clarity and simplicity with which she sees the world? Respected for her earnest and hard-fought struggle with a foreign culture? And empowered by her Actually three and a half stars. And empowered by her sexual awakening? Or is she tedious, possessive, calculating, over-bearing and in fact more radically intolerant of difference than any Brit? Likewise, is the man a complex, inward artist who overcomes a parochial upbringing and difficult youth to find a more authentic and natural mode of existence within a spoiled Western culture?

    Or is he an insensitive, impatient brat, using the young woman for sex and not willing to give anything more to her? The dictionary motif works well in all kinds of ways. The narrator's "bad" English is actually completely understandable, an interesting fake fiction of agrammatical and improper English written with a perfect knowledge not only of English, but of what kinds of mistakes will be recognizable to English speakers as mistakes, but will still be completely meaningful. This must have something to do with the book as a whole.


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    How "Chinese" is the version of the Chinese woman we meet in this book? To what extent is everything still in Western terms here? And to what extent does this book show that such a question doesn't matter? Well-written coming-of-age story of a dysfunctional cross-cultural romance told with a thoroughly unique voice.

    Guo nails both Z's evolving language skills as well as her "stranger in a strange land" take on the realities and absurdities of living in a totally alien culture. I didn't develop any particular sympathy for Z's unnamed British lover - and not a huge amount for Z herself, for that matter - but the writing style alone held my interest more than any similar "female novel" has done in a Well-written coming-of-age story of a dysfunctional cross-cultural romance told with a thoroughly unique voice. I didn't develop any particular sympathy for Z's unnamed British lover - and not a huge amount for Z herself, for that matter - but the writing style alone held my interest more than any similar "female novel" has done in a long time.

    I flipped ahead a bunch and it looks like the character learns English over time in the book but I'm sorry I just will not enjoy this book because that's going to be the only thing I notice about it. I have no problem listening to say booktubers with all different accents, but reading Aug 04, Vanessa Wu rated it really liked it. My boyfriend who is English and reads the Guardian gave me this book. My flatmate who is Chinese and reads Grazia borrowed it without asking.

    That's the trouble with talking to your flatmate about books. This week she's gone off to Austria with my copy of Candy by Mian Mian because I made the mistake of telling her how much I was enjoying it. Back to this one by Xiaolu Guo. I avoided it for a while because it's written in bad English. My boyfriend found this cute but it's not good for me. I My boyfriend who is English and reads the Guardian gave me this book. I am very imitative and when I read bad English I start writing it. When I did start reading it, I read a chapter aloud to my flatmate and we were both in hysterics.

    When I looked for it next it was gone. In my flatmate's absence, I raided her room and retrieved it so now I have finished it and can write a review. It's about a Chinese woman called Z who comes to England and has a romance with an English man who reads the Guardian. As their relationship develops, her English improves, she learns how to be naked, have sex all day, use a condom, and, most importantly, because of the nature of an English man's love, to masturbate.

    She also learns that love means different things in Chinese and English, which is true. English people say they love each other when they mean they are fond of each other. Chinese people would rather not say it but instead demonstrate it through a lifetime of devotion.

    The narrative is a bit disjointed but original. It takes the form of a notebook containing entries on words Z is learning. The bad English which improves is not always quite how we Chinese write English but it is often close. Some of the notes on language are very insightful. I disagreed with some of them and sometimes Z's innocence struck a false note, becoming merely a rhetorical device. The ending is moving. Maybe it will make you cry. Mar 28, Biblio Curious rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , linguistics , lit-eastern. Whoever designed this cover should have his license revoked.

    A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers

    My copy travelled the world with me because I didn't want to lose it in storage. I only brought 5 non-work related books with me and this is one of them. The title is perfect, I saw that first at the bookstore, quickly followed by shame at the cover!! I almost didn't buy it. But the contents It's a diary of a Chinese Expat learning English in London. Her entries are in dictionary f Whoever designed this cover should have his license revoked. Her entries are in dictionary form. The first entry is in very 'broken' English and it advances from there.

    Excerpt from A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers | Penguin Random House Canada

    By the end, she's damn near fluent! Don't let the cover fool you. There are some steamy scenes and parts are embarassing. But if you're interested in language learning, fringe writing style, 'love' stories or have expat experience, it'll be a great book. Also for the 'immigrant' experience.

    My copy made it back home with me. View all 10 comments. Easy to read, but generally a bit disappointing. I was waiting for the moment to feel the love, but couldn't feel it between Z and the man. Couldn't feel sympathy to Z or the man either.

    A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers Synopsis

    Little garden and the details of trees and plants and also sculptures were my favorites. Worth reading from the cultural point of view.

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    Loved the languages comparison. Dec 30, Bhargavi Balachandran rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction , jan , british-council , read-in , borrowed-books. Sometimes when you read a book that makes you laugh and cry all at once and you wonder what kind of a book that is- a good one, I have realized. Xiaolu's book is a poignant ,yet funny tale of a young Chinese girl who arrives in London with shiny eyes and unending reserves of curiosity to learn English.

    Written in the first person narrative,almost like a diary,the first odd pages almost reads like a chicklit - breezy and funny. As the protagonist, Z tackles English breakfasts,the infamous" Eng Sometimes when you read a book that makes you laugh and cry all at once and you wonder what kind of a book that is- a good one, I have realized. As the protagonist, Z tackles English breakfasts,the infamous" English weather" ,dodgy lodgings,intricacies of English grammar and hosts of other "English" things, Xiaolu will enthrall you with her wit and funny observations, all written in deliberately bad English.

    I fell in love with the protagonist,Z,whose earnestness made the book all the more special for me. Gradually,as Z settles into her life in London and falls in love with a man, the tone changes.