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

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
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's review
Jan 04, 2012

really liked it

This turned out to be a surprisingly good book for me, as I didn't expect at first when I started reading it.

Guo has written this story about a young, curious, quirky Chinese girl (she insists that people call her Z, because her Chinese name is too complicated for them to pronounce anyway, but begins with a Z), whom meets an older Englishman in London, and through some language misunderstandings ends up living with him, and having an affair. The book is intentionally written with some typical Chinese language errors in English, which I thought might be annoying at first, but it actually adds something special to it, and is often amusing. I felt like these language errors also helped me to become a part of Z's mind and see things through her perspective of a foreigner more clearly.

Each chapter starts with an English word (and its definition in the dictionary)significant for the chapter, and the chapter also clearly shows how dictionary definitions can sometimes be very confusing for beginners, rather than giving them answers.

Although the book is often funny, it has some more serious and sad parts too, about culture clashes and the loneliness often felt in our society, where individualism and freedom can be so important that it's not something positive anymore, but rather something that separates us from others.
The book is easy to read because of the short chapters, and not too complicated, but not too simple either. A very enjoyable read.
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