A Lover’s Discourseby Xiaolu Guo
A story of desire, love, language, and the meaning of home—told through conversations between a Chinese graduate student and an Australian man, falling in love against the backdrop of Brexit London
“I don’t believe in love at first sight.”
I was taken aback. I thought we were definitely in love at first sight.
“What do you mean? Wasn’t it clear the moment you picked the elderflowers by the park and we looked at each other? Or was it in that book club?”
You gave me a damp smile, as if my confusion proved that you were right.
A Chinese woman moves from Beijing to London for a doctoral program—and to begin a new life—just as the Brexit campaign reaches a fever pitch. Isolated and lonely in a Britain increasingly hostile to foreigners, she meets a landscape architect and the two begin to build a life together.
A Lover’s Discourse is an exploration of romantic love told through fragments of conversations between the two lovers. Playing with language and the cultural differences that her narrator encounters as she settles into life in post-Brexit vote Britain, the lovers must navigate their differences and their romance, whether on their unmoored houseboat or in a cramped and stifling apartment in east London. Suffused with a wonderful sense of humor, this intimate and tender novel asks what it means to make a home and a family in a new land.
“The novels confirmed Guo, who is also a film-maker, as an astute and challenging innovator, slipping between word and image, documentary and fiction, as restlessly as between languages.”—Guardian on A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
“Xiaolu Guo’s literary voice remains a breath of the freshest air imaginable.”—The Independent (UK) on A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
“Gripping. . . In evocative, captivating prose that reads like fiction, Guo brings to life her lifelong struggles against the chains of poverty, gender, and censorship . . . A rich and insightful coming-of-age story of not only a woman, but of an artist and the country in which she was born.”—Kirkus Reviews on Nine Continents
“A memoir to compare with Wild Swans for a new generation . . . Utterly compelling . . . The book is often shocking in its descriptions of violence and deprivation, but Guo also writes with wry humour . . . She writes superbly about her struggle to escape the constraints of gender, poverty and state interference. This extraordinary memoir will enhance her burgeoning reputation.”—Ian Critchley, Sunday Times (UK) on Nine Continents