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Friday, 11 January 2008

Hackney - Xiaolu Guo

In A Conscise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, novelist Xiaolu Guo also visits London. Her beautiful novel reveals how language, culture, sexuality and self interact through a love affair set in Hackney.

It's a story of physical and emotional self-discovery and being a stranger in both a foreign land and, as a result, one's own land. It's not really about London or England but somehow little snippets provide a bleak, but convincing view of the coldness and isolation of different aspects of English life.

"I sit in a pub alone, trying to feel involved in the conversation.It seem place of middle-aged-mans culture. I smell a kind of dying, although it still struggling."


"Hardly days is absolutely sunny, sunny until sun falling to the west. Sky in England always look suspicious, untrustful, like today's. You see me sad but don't understand why."


"You lie in bath. The water comes to top, and the bubble covers your body. We both always take bath when we feel depressed. Do most Englsih people do that, especially in the long dark winter? I wonder. How many baths we have been taken since we being together? In last six months the bath I had must be more than I did in the last twenty-four years."


"You start drinking your tea. A vegetrian shepherd pie is in the oven, the kind of English food I hate. Such a sad food. A kind of food shows how boring the life is. A kind of food without passion."


Tadhg said...

Like the literary links!

colin pantall said...

Thanks Tadhg - it's interesting how language creates emotional and visual images and how that can correspond to photography and art.