Xiaolu Guo — 'I Am China'
"Dearest Mu, I am writing to you from a place I cannot tell you about yet." It is this mysterious note that sparks a translator's interest in the living people buried in a hoard of Chinese letters and diaries which she has been commissioned to translate. With a fascination which borders on obsession the translator gradually unearths the story of an extraordinary but otherwise anonymous contemporary Chinese couple: the exiled underground Chinese rock musician Jian and his girlfriend Mu. Escaping political censure and personal secrets these lovers have crossed continents, from Parisian rock clubs to American college campuses and European immigrant detention centers, yearning to be reunited — and yet always seeming to travel further apart.
I Am China, Xiaolu Guo's latest novel, is not only a compelling love story for our times but a meditation on exile and the uncertainties of modern life.
Join Xiaolu Guo for a conversation with Susan Jakes, Editor of ChinaFile and Senior Fellow at the Center on U.S.-China Relations, Asia Society, on her work as a writer in Chinese and English and as a filmmaker. An accomplished director, Xiaolu Guo will also show short clips from her film work, including her recent documentary film about China's newly emerged social classes, Once Upon a Time Proletarian (Venice Film Festival, 2010), and her feature film, the political fable UFO in Her Eyes (Toronto Film Festival, 2012).
Followed by a book sale and signing.
"I Am China, her latest novel, is multilayered exploration of politics and culture across three continents." — The Guardian
Xiaolu Guo (郭小橹) was born in south China. She studied film at the Beijing Film Academy and published six books in China before she moved to London in 2002. The English translation of Village of Stone was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her first novel written in English, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, and 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth, previously published in Chinese, was published in English in 2008 and was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. Xiaolu's film career continues to flourish; her feature She, A Chinese, was released in 2009 and her documentary Once Upon a Time Proletarian has been screened at international film festivals such as Venice and Toronto. In 2013 she was named as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. Guo is a bilingual novelist in the tradition of Conrad, Nabokov, and Kundera. I Am China is her most recent novel.
Susan Jakes is Editor of ChinaFile and Senior Fellow at Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations. From 2000-2007 she reported on China for Time magazine, first as a reporter and editor based in Hong Kong and then as the magazine’s Beijing Correspondent. She covered a wide range of topics for Time’s international and domestic editions, including: student nationalism, human rights, the environment, public health, education, architecture, kung fu, North Korea’s nuclear weapons, and the making of Bhutan’s first feature film. Jakes was awarded the Society of Publishers in Asia’s Young Journalist of the Year Award for her coverage of Chinese youth culture. In 2003, she broke the story of the Chinese government’s cover-up of the SARS epidemic in Beijing, for which she received a Henry Luce Public Service Award. She speaks and writes on China for a variety of print, radio, and television outlets.
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