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An NPR Best Book of the Year
London translator Iona Kirkpatrick is at work on a new project: a collection of letters and diaries by a Chinese punk guitarist named Kublai Jian. As she translates the handwritten pages, a story of romance and revolution emerges between Jian, who believes there is no art without political commitment, and Mu, a poet whom he loves as fiercely as his ideals.
Iona cannot know that Jian has come to Britain seeking political asylum and is mere miles away in Dover, awaiting news of his fate. Mu is in Beijing, writing letters to London, feverishly trying to track Jian down. As Iona charts the course of their twenty-year relationship from its beginnings at Beijing University to Jian’s defiant march in the Jasmine Revolution, her empty life takes on an urgent purpose: to bring Jian and Mu together again before it’s too late.
Xiaolu Guo published six books in China before moving 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 Broadband Prize for Fiction, and Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth, published in 2008, was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. She is also a successful director of feature films, including She, a Chinese and UFO in Her Eyes, and documentaries; her work has premiered at the Venice Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival, and other venues all over the world. She was named as one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists in 2013.