Xiaolu Guo

Xiaolu Guo is a novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and film maker. She was born in south-eastern China in 1973 and studied Film at Beijiing Film Academy and the UK National Film & TV School.

Her novel in English translation, Village of Stone (Vintage Books, 2004), was shortlisted for the 2005 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the 2006 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. It was followed by her first novel written in English, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (Anchor, 2007), which was shortlisted for the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction.

Guo’s other novels include 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth (Vintage Books, 2008), which was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize; UFO in Her Eyes (Chatto & Windus, 2009); Lovers in the Age of Indifference (Chatto & Windus, 2010); and I Am China (Anchor, 2014). Her most recent book is a memoir, Once Upon A Time in the East: A Story of Growing Up (Penguin Random House, 2017).

Her award-winning feature films include She, a Chinese (2009, Golden Leopard Award in Locarno Film Festival) and UFO in Her Eyes (2011), the latter adapted as a screenplay from her novel, and screened at international film festivals. Her documentaries include Once Upon a Time Proletarian (2009), We Went to Wonderland (2008), How Is Your Fish Today? (2006) and The Concrete Revolution (2004), which was awarded the Grand Prix in the 2005 International Human Rights Film Festival (France).

In April 2013, she was named one of the “Best of Young British Novelists” by Granta Magazine. (Photo credit: Robert Newald)


From LOVERS IN THE AGE OF INDIFFERENCE

FLOWER OF SOLITUDE

1. HOUYI

   At that time, the universe has two worlds – the earth with the Mortals and the heaven with the Immortals. At that time, the mountain is scarlet red and the sea flows with the color of blood. At that time, the animals crowd the land that humans have to fight for their space. At that time, the greatest quality a man could have is to be the best archer. At that time, on the red earth, there is a great archer named Houyi.

   With a large bow on his shoulder, Houyi walks rapidly on the wild grass like a leopard passing through the forest. He heads towards Village of White Elephant to help the locals shoot wolves. No animal, wolf, bull, or lion can outrun Houyi’s arrows. Houyi is indeed the master of all archers within the kingdom. 

     The sun is burning above the pine trees, and beneath them Houyi sweats like a young bull. He washes his face in a stream at the foot of the hills, drinking in the clear and sweet water from the mountain. He bites into the sour fruit from a wild pear tree, spitting the hard skin onto his grass shoes. He continues his hiking. He is a man with wild temper, his young beard is thick and strong, always erect in the wind on both sides of his cheeks. Like a sharp knife he will kill anyone who threatens him. And with his great silver bow against the arrows on his back, even tigers fear him and slink from his path.

   In the autumn afternoon, when the heat subsides, in the forest, Houyi manages to shoot three wolves. The first two are instantly killed, the third one is wounded and saved for the autumn sacrifice. The villagers cerebrate their hero. Some thank Houyi with the corn and fish, others offer smoked pork. Loaded with food, carrying his great bow, Houyi leaves the village.

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