20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth

by Xiaolu Guo | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9780099532545 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingTsjarawing of Zaandam, Noord-Holland Netherlands on 11/9/2014
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4 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingTsjarawing from Zaandam, Noord-Holland Netherlands on Sunday, November 09, 2014
Bought this at the summer book fair in Hong Kong few years ago. It's been a while since I have read it, so I don't remember much of it, only that I liked it. :p

Back of cover: Life as a film extra in Bejing might seem hard, but Fenfang won't be defeated. She has travelled 1800 miles to seek her fortune in the city, and has no desire to return to the never-ending sweet potato fields back home. Determined to live a modern life, Fenfang works as a cleaner in the Young Pioneer's movie theatre, falls in love with unsuitable men and keeps her kitchen cupboard stocked with UFO noodles. As Fenfang might say, 'Heavenly Bastard in the Sky, isn't it about time I got my lucky break?'

Journal Entry 2 by wingTsjarawing at Assendelft, Noord-Holland Netherlands on Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Released 3 yrs ago (9/22/2015 UTC) at Assendelft, Noord-Holland Netherlands

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Travelling as a wishlist tag to Tarna. Hope you will enjoy it! ^_^

Journal Entry 3 by wingTarnawing at Tampere, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Thursday, October 01, 2015
I spent a few days away from home and came back last night. Lots of mail waiting for me. Bills and stuff. And — Yay!— a book obviously. Opened the package and found not only my wishlist book but also a postcard, stickers and teabags. Thank you ever so much, Tsjara.
Btw, also my first Xiaolu Guo book was A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers and I loved it so. :)

Journal Entry 4 by wingTarnawing at Tampere, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Usually, when you've read a few books by same author, you'd recognize their style in anywhere. Including 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth, I've read four novels by Xiaolu Guo, and I still don't know her style. It seems to me that her novels have no common factor – well, except that her protagonist is a Chinese woman. In my reading, this book has two protagonists and the other one is Beijing. I've never been to China, let alone to Beijing, but I could sense the city in many episodes.
Fenfang, a young peasant woman, has moved to Beijing trying to find her place there. She wishes to make a career in the film industry. As you can imagine, it's not that easy.
”So, I was the 6,787th person in Beijing wanting a job in the film and TV industry. Between me and a role stood 6,786 other people – young and beautiful, old and ugly. I felt the competition, but compared with the 1.5 billion people in China, 6,786 wasn't such a daunting number. It was only the population of my village. I felt an urge to conquer this new village.”
At some point I began to feel the text might be somewhat autobiographical. After finishing the book, I learned I was right (although it seems to me that Village of Stone is even more autobiographical.)
Once again, the text speaks also about changing China and explains some traits of Chinese culture. I was taken by the importance of knowing the age of the person you're talking with. It seems natural now, but I would never realized it if Guo hadn't explained it to me.
”Then he asked my age, and I asked his. That's the tradition in China. If we know each other's ages we can understand each other's past. We Chinese have been collective for so long, personal histories are not worth mentioning.”
And even if China is changing, there are things that stay the same.
“The routine of a small, desolate village can rule its inhabitants' lives more effectively than an imperial dynasty. For thousands of years, people have done the same thing.”
Xiaolu Guo is not only novelist but also film-maker. It turns out that 6,786 other role seekers are not the only obstacle Fenfang has to overcome in order to advance in her career. The book gives us a glimpse of difficulties a female (script-)writer may meet in China.
So, you're a woman writer. I, eh, I've never read anything by a... you know... woman before. And eh, don't be angry, but let me tell you women can't write.”
I beg to differ. Women can write. And I'm sure Xiaolu Guo writes better than most Chinese writers, male or female.
This book, these 20 fragments of Fenfang's life are very enjoyable read, indeed. In the end of the book, Acknowledgements is worth reading, too. The author explains there the history of the book and tells why she felt she had to rewrite it when translated into English. It's interesting. So is the whole book. I warmly recommend it.
Tsjara, thank you so much for this lovely book and a great reading experience! I hope the next reader – whoever they might be – will also enjoy it. 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth is my July offer in greenbadger's One book a month thread. Therefore the book is now reserved.

Journal Entry 5 by wingTarnawing at Pirkkala, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Friday, July 27, 2018

Released 7 mos ago (7/27/2018 UTC) at Pirkkala, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland

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Not reserved anymore, this book is now travelling. In the draw, it was won by sedna5213. The book will spend the weekend in a mailbox and leave Finland for Germany early next week.
Happy reading, sedna5213! I hope you'll enjoy 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth.

Journal Entry 6 by wingsedna5213wing at Charlottenburg, Berlin Germany on Saturday, August 04, 2018
The book arrived safely in Berlin. Thank you very much Tarna, also for the great bookmark and the winter card! It's still boiling hot here and I'm sitting next to a fan....

****
A very interesting read!

Journal Entry 7 by wingsedna5213wing at Charlottenburg, Berlin Germany on Saturday, October 20, 2018

Released 5 mos ago (10/20/2018 UTC) at Charlottenburg, Berlin Germany

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

The book was chosen from the First Sentence VBB and is travelling back to Finland.
Enjoy the read!

Journal Entry 8 by wingSoozreaderwing at Joensuu, Pohjois-Karjala / Norra Karelen Finland on Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Thank you very much for this book I chose because of its first sentence!

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