Ladyslott's Reviews > Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth

Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo
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Mar 22, 2010

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bookshelves: relationships, kindle, women, 2010, china, contemporary-fiction, social-commentary, the-challenged-reader
Read in January, 2010

Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth is a small book, but it does provide an insight into a world many of us know so little about, life inside Communist China.

Told in twenty chapters, each a fragment of Fenfang’s life, this book is a series of small narratives in the life of this young woman. Growing up in a small village Fenfang sees her future as a never ending farming of the sweet potato fields all around her. Her parents are silent and worn down so Fenfeng decides to pack it all in and head for the big city Bejing. At only seventeen years of age Fenfeng is a little out of her depth, and struggles to survive.

I enjoyed this novella that depicts this determined young woman’s search for success. She takes a series of menial jobs slowly working her way into the movie business, playing unnamed woman in non-speaking extra roles. She is at times, brave, scared, brash and submissive. She has a few relationships with men, one a bit of a stalker, another is an American citizen who’s slumming and a third that’s her closest friend and obviously in love with her. Living in a handful of different apartments, she has some trouble with the Communist Neighborhood Committee; their main purpose is to spy on everyone. Most of these are old school Communists who are looked at with disdain by the younger Chinese who are obsessed with American movies and TV, all DVD’s acquired on the Black Market. The clash with the old and new was particularly interesting to me.

Fenfang eventually works her way into writing a screenplay that is accepted for filming, and succeeds in leaving her life on the edges of life behind. Since Xiaolu Guo is a screenwriter herself I have to believe that this is a semi-autographical work, one that at first seems slight but grows on you and makes you wonder about these young people that will be forming the direction of the new China.
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