20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth
4 journalers for this copy...
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?'
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
Btw, also my first Xiaolu Guo book was A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers and I loved it so. :)
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.
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
Happy reading, sedna5213! I hope you'll enjoy 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth.
A very interesting read!
Enjoy the read!