Angie's Reviews > A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
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Apr 06, 2012

really liked it
Read on April 06, 2012

Zhuang Xiao Qiao (known in the book as "Z") is the only daughter of a lower-middle class family from Zhe Jiang, China. After giving up farming her parents open a small shoe factory; hoping language skills will improve their factory's prospects, they send her to London for a year to study. Z, born in July 1979, arrives in London in February 2003. The book's format follows Z through the calendar year she spends in London; each month is broken into short chapters titled with a new English word Z has learned. The main plot point is her relationship with a bisexual English man 20 years her senior, whom she moves in with 2 days after meeting because she misunderstands his use of the phrase "be my guest."

I really enjoyed it! Here's why:
1) the main character is almost exactly my age
2) I could relate to her experience studying abroad in a different culture and language, it reminded me a lot of my time in Uruguay
3) the characters are so wonderfully flawed
4) the first few months are written in very broken English. The book's grammar improves as Z studies and learns
5) Z explains which grammatical concepts are hard for her to understand with details about how those ideas are conveyed in Chinese
6) epilogue - I love books that give me a little glimpse of the characters' futures.

Not recommended to anyone who is shy about sex. =)
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