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Já jsem Čína

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  718 Ratings  ·  146 Reviews
V bytě nad hlučným tržištěm v severním Londýně se mladá překladatelka Iona Kirkpatricková pouští do překladu čínského dopisu: Nejdražší Mu, slunce tu neúprosně praží. Svinská nebeská výheň. Připadám si prázdný a obnažený. V duši nemám mimo Tvé podoby zhola nic. Píšu Ti z místa, které Ti zatím nemohu prozradit…

V detenčním centru v Doveru čeká vyhoštěný čínský hudebník na sv
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published 2016 by Omega (first published June 5th 2014)
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Seldom do I rue the absence of the solidity of a paperback I can clutch to my chest out of an overwhelming love, memorize the feel of its pages against my fingertips. My priorities lie in knowing what I do not, the means to the end irrelevant in this instance. The advent of the e-reader has negated the problem of the steadily shrinking space on the book shelf and helped me horde books without a care. And yet sometimes a kindle copy just isn't enough. The last time I had felt this familiar pang o ...more
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: politically correct individuals
Recommended to Jaidee by: all the girls in the literary "know" really should be "hell NO"
Shelves: two-stars-books

2 "a tad ridiculous, a bit pretentious, really tried to like it...." stars.

Gosh, this book tried to do so much and achieved very little.

By all means this book coulda and shoulda have been a winner but it failed on so many counts.

It had so many themes that I love in fiction- alienation, romantic love, family history, politics, attempts at cross cultural understanding, myths, dreams etc etc etc. All these ingredients were there and so many more. She kept adding to this International stew- Mongol,
**Thank you Doubleday/Nan t. Talese and Netgalley for providing this in exchange for an honest review**

3.5 Stars

First off I want to say the book description is kind of misleading. A little over half the story is about the relationship between Mu and Jian. However, a good chunk of the story is about Iona. Iona is hired to translate Mu and Jian's letters and diaries. It is Iona's story that knocked this down from a 5 Star read.

I loved Mu from the start. I feel she was the real heart and soul of th
Yang Huang
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I Am China, by Xiaolu Guo, is an intriguing love story saturated with political angst. The prelude begins with Kublai Jian’s letter to his girlfriend Deng Mu, written in 2011, in which he recounts his walk to Tiananmen Square the night after the massacre in June 1989: “If you looked closely you could see the blood had soaked into the gaps between the stones.”

I was deeply engrossed by the poetic language and attention to details. The prose is elegant and smooth. At times the mood and atmosphere i
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
First of all, let me say that this is a beautiful cover.

Second of all, let me say that I didn't pick it up because of the cover. I picked it up because I read Guo's UFO in Her Eyes earlier this year and loved it. And if I loved that book, I adored this one even more.

The premise really intrigued me. A young Scottish translator reading a jumble of letters and diary entries between two lovers -- Mu and Jian. I love the structure of this novel, the translator (Iona) picks up a page and starts to t
I Am China marks a step back for Guo following her superb earlier novels Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth and A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers. Where her previous novels shined was their capture of tiny people and their tiny lives, which Guo depicted with such loving detail to anchor readers in previously impossible-to-know times and places.

I Am China is unmistakably vaster, as its brazen title might suggest. Gone are Guo's snowglobe settings where the entire tale takes place
Maya Panika
A book of three voices: dissident Mongolian- Chinese musician Jian, his poet girlfriend Mu, and their Scottish translator Iona. Mu and Jian's disjointed story is told through diary entries, letters, newspaper clippings and Iona's research, as the translator becomes obsessed with her subjects, and their tragic tale emerges through her translations.
Maybe it is because Xiaolu Guo is writing about her native land - thinking in Chinese, mentally translating - that the language of the story often feel
This is a heart wrenching love story, powerful socio political critique and a poignant reflection on cultural identities meshed masterfully into one. This book was a delight to read - the multiple layered were built upon another delicately yet they formed a coherent structure that flowed with ease. I don't know how to precisely describe it but it was the kind of reading experience, where you'd slow down in order to be able to savour the narrative and you'd stop to let the taste of the prose ling ...more
Chris Craddock
The Great Firewall of China

I Am China by Xiaolu Guo

Review by Chris Craddock

I Am China by Xiaolu Guo begins with Iona Kirkpatrick, a Scottish woman described as resembling Winona Ryder, receiving a package of letters and journals in Chinese for her to translate. She is newly graduated but up to the task, though it takes a while for the characters to emerge, and for their story to make sense. Iona was named for the Scottish Isle, and she herself is also a rocky and isolated island. Though she goe
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was very gratefully received as an ebook from Random House UK/ Vintage Publishing via NetGalley.

Iona is a lonely Chinese translator who is one day given a parcel of letters and diaries with no information about who they belong to. The fragments are jumbled and some hard to read,but she pieces together the stories of Jian and Mu. Jian, a popular Chinese punk musician is in exile in Europe after releasing his ‘manifesto’ into the crowd at a concert. He writes to his love, Mu, and to himself i
Joy Isabella
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wouldn't have heard of I Am China if it weren't for the Bailey's Prize Long-list, and that would have been a travesty! Xiaolu Guo gripped me from the beginning with her interwoven stories of a translator and the lives of the people's diaries she is translating. This novel way of telling a story worked brilliantly and left me with well-rounded pictures of all the key characters. With significant aspects of politics, communism and Chinese history that I was unaware of, this could have been beyon ...more
Justin Tam
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simply a masterstroke.
la storia e le vicende di jian e mu sono meravigliose, anche se ti squartano in due da quanto fanno male. le vicende della traduttrice iona, invece, sono prevedibili e interessanti come una gara di sbadigli e l'autrice poteva pure risparmiarcele.
Mar 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-books
what did i think? i am not finished processing the read in my mind yet, but i wanted to get some thoughts down in this space while it's fresh.

so... i found much about this novel fascinating. i have read very little fiction that shines a light on post-tiannamen square china. so the cultural insights were very interesting. as well, i liked the format of the novel: a translator based in london receives a mess of letters and journals and it's up to her to not only translate the work from chinese to
It's been a few days since I read this, and I could just leave this, but I'm trying really hard to review every book I read this year, so here goes...

This was a strange book, in that, I don't know whether I enjoyed it or not. I have read three other books by Xiaolu Guo, but that was too long ago to remember whether I liked her style, her prose, or her plots. I picked this up on name recognition alone, though, so she must have left some sort of impression on me.

I'm wavering on whether to give thi
Jul 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a difficult book to rate, as I really enjoyed half of it, and pretty much gave up on the other half. The book is structured as a story-within-a-story: Iona, a Scottish translator living in London, is translating the letters and diaries of Mu and Jian, a Chinese couple. I loved Mu and Jian's sections -- each character separately and their relationship together (and apart) were wonderful, interesting and smartly written and original (the Beijing underground punk scene! Not something I've e ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading two books about genocide ( Rwanda and Serbia respectively) I thought I was in for another round of senseless killing when I pulled out the title I am China from the jar (trust me my jar has a cruel sense of humour - whenever I'm totally busy the 500 pagers crop up, last july it thought that it would be a good idea for me to read all my non fiction books in one consecutive month etc) anyway this book was marvelous. Multi layered, well written and one excellent plot.

Iona translates
Lucy Shiels
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bluntly put: I absolutely bloody loved this book! I had studied twentieth century Chinese history in the past and so I had some context to the historical events that were pin-pointed, and found the ideas that were put forward concerning the Chinese Communist Party really interesting. That being said, even if you have no prior knowledge of Chinese history I still recommend this book to you. It is wonderfully written with a gripping storyline. It was one of those books that I put off reading the e ...more
Kate Scott
I received an unsolicited review copy of I Am China last year and shelved it indefinitely for lack of interest. I’m so glad it didn’t end up in my giveaway pile! The book is about a politically idealistic Chinese punk guitarist, the poet he loves, and a British translator tasked with extracting a cohesive narrative of their lives from a bundle of letters and diary entries spanning two decades. This is Guo’s first English-language book and it is beautifully written. The story unfolds at a perfect ...more
Ana Maria Roig
May 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I didn't want it to end! I am going to miss Kublai Jian, Mu and Iona! Fantastic book from such an insightful writer.
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have something of a literary crush on Xiaolu Guo after reading the American ARC of this. One of my favorite books of the year. Interview forthcoming.
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful book.
The story of the 2 lovers, written by the way of diary fragments and a collection of notes that unfolds itself as the translator works her way through them, the life of the translator itself, these elements give a special feeling to this book.
The story is not clear from the beginning, the translation of the chinese is not allways unambiguous, the life of the MC’s not clear. The book reads a bit like a detective trying to unravel the love story, the past of it and its devastati
Krystal Bernier
I can't praise Ziaolu Guo and the masterpiece that is I Am China enough. Her prose are poetic, her subjects tugged at my heartstrings, and the glimpse into the mind of a Chinese revolutionist shed light on the country that is China. The story follows three people: Iona, a Scottish translator living in London who is commissioned to translate the diaries and letters of an interesting Chinese couple; Jian, a Chinese punk rock revolutionist pulled between the love of his country and the love of his ...more

I'm incredibly greatful to have won this book from Doubleday through GoodReads Giveaways!

This book is unlike anything I've read before with the way it was written. Everything links together with Iona, a Chinese translator in London who's assigned documents to decipher made of letters and diaries. The documents are written between Kublai Jian, a Chinese musician removed from his country because of his "manifesto" (which remains a mystery for much of the book) and his lover, Mu. Iona translates th

May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I Am China is an interesting puzzle of a book. The author, Xiaolu Guo, is a writer and film maker (she graduated from the Beijing Film Academy), which shows in the structuring of this novel that jumps back and forth in time, moving from perspective to perspective in a way that is genuinely cinematic. Born in China, Guo now lives and writes in Britain, and I Am China presents perspectives based in both the country of her birth and her adopted country.

The Chinese perspectives are embodied in the c
Note: I received this book free courtesy of Goodreads, Firstreads in exchange for an honest review.

What I liked: The format of the story was quite a bit different than what I'm used to. It's a bit hard to explain, but I liked it. The language in this book is absolutely beautiful and helps shape the story in so many ways. I loved the fragments of handwriting and photographs that were included because they help reveal more about the characters of Mu and Jian. The three main characters in this boo
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Iona, a Scottish woman living in London, is asked to translate letters and diary entries written by Jian, a Chinese punk musician living in exile after his political ideas got him kicked out of China and Jian's girlfriend Mu. Mu has been unable to locate Jian and is looking for help in finding him. Through the translated letters and diary entries, Iona enters the lives of these two strangers and becomes more than just a translator. She becomes invested in the story of Jian and Mu and she wants t ...more
Gayla Bassham
I Am China is an ambitious book about an important topic. But it never really came together for me. Xiaolu Guo has so many ideas that they never really coalesce. She wants to talk about identity, and politics, and revolution, and language, and isolation, and love, and sex, and human connection. In the end, I felt she was only partly successful. I would rather read a novel that successfully tackles one or two of these ideas than one at which the author seems to have thrown every thought she’s eve ...more
May 05, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Iona Fitzpatrick, Chinese translator, is a bit of a loner and with little social life apart from occasional casual sex. She is tasked with translating the diaries and papers of a Chinese couple, Jian and Mu, and, as her work proceeds it reveals a tale of their love set against the backdrop of a repressive Chinese regime. Enjoyable at first, I felt the story deteriorated as it proceeded and the couple became separated, Jian ending up seeking asylum in Europe and Mu touring America as a poet befor ...more
There is plenty of things to say about this book... but lately my words have left me behind. Xiaolu Guo has a lot to say in this book and I think has poured her heart into this book. It wraps up feminism, equality, freedom of speech and a political statement about China. It's a lot of things to write about.

Maybe one day I'll edit this review but I'm sure whatever I say here won't justify my feelings.
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Xiaolu Guo (Simplified Chinese: 郭小櫓 pinyin:guō xiǎo lǔ, born 1973) is a Chinese novelist and filmmaker. She utilizes various media, including film and writing, to tell stories of alienation, introspection and tragedy, and to explore China's past, present and future in an increasingly connected world.

Her novel A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers was nominated for the 2007 Orange Prize f
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“bu wen bu rou wen zi, wen zi bu ruo jian zhi. jian zhi bu ruo zhi zi, zhi zi bu ruo xing zi. Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I will remember. But involve me, I will understand. XUN ZI (PHILOSOPHER, WARRING STATES PERIOD, 475–221 BC)” 1 likes
“We die, governments change, ideologies evolve, borders disappear, rivers merge, islands sink, trees rot, bones dissolve, even nature expires one day. But the universe exists, with stars or without stars, with air or without air, infinitely and unimaginably beyond man. I know that the infinite world is there beyond trivial ideologies or politics. And we only have one life to live.” 0 likes
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