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Once Upon a Time in the East: A Story of Growing Up

Thursday 30 March 2017

1 Hour


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Novelist Xiaolu Guo tells the extraordinary story of her childhood in China and her journey from a rundown shack to film school in Beijing and then a career as a successful young writer and film director in the West.

Guo was handed over to a childless peasant couple at birth and only met her real parents when she was six. She suffered malnutrition as a child, but eventually made it to film school in Beijing. In 2002, she left China on a scholarship to Britain, and has now spent a decade in the West. Her story gives her a unique perspective on the East and the West.

Guo published six books in China before her move to the UK. 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 in English, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, and 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. Her most recent novel, I Am China, was longlisted for the Baileys Prize for Fiction. In 2013 she was named as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. Guo has also directed several films.

Here she talks to journalist and LBC radio presenter Matthew Stadlen, a former BBC producer who is a regular interviewer for the Daily Telegraph and has interviewed for the BBC.