Nine Continents: Book summary and reviews of Nine Continents by Xiaolu Guo

Nine Continents

A Memoir In and Out of China

by Xiaolu Guo

Nine Continents by Xiaolu Guo
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2017
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    Genre: Biographies/Memoirs

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Book Summary

A vivid, poignant memoir, Nine Continents is the story of a curious mind coming of age in an inhospitable country, and her determination to seek a life beyond the limits of its borders.

Xiaolu Guo has traveled further than most to become who she needed to be. Now, as she experiences the birth of her daughter in a London maternity ward surrounded by women from all over the world, she looks back on that journey. It begins in the fishing village shack on the East China Sea where her illiterate grandparents raised her, and brings her to a rapidly changing Beijing, full of contradictions: a thriving underground art scene amid mass censorship, curious Westerners who held out affection only to disappear back home. Eventually Xiaolu determined to see the world beyond China for herself, and now, after fifteen years in Europe, her words resonate with the insight of someone both an outsider and at home, in a world far beyond the country of her birth.

Nine Continents presents a fascinating portrait of China in the eighties and nineties, how the Cultural Revolution shaped families, and how the country's economic ambitions gave rise to great change. It is also a moving testament to the birth of a creative spirit, and of a new generation being raised to become citizens of the world. It confirms Xiaolu Guo as one of world literature's most urgent voices.

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Media Reviews

"A rich and insightful coming-of-age story of not only a woman, but an artist and the country in which she was born." - Kirkus

"This compelling story set against the incredible growth and cultural changes of one of the world's most powerful countries will engage those fascinated by the resolve of the human spirit to succeed." - Library Journal

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Xiaolu Guo 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 Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth, published in 2008, was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. Her most recent novel, I Am China, was longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. In 2013 she was named one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. Xiaolu has also directed several award-winning films including She, A Chinese and a documentary about London, Late at Night. She lives in London and Berlin.

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