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Village Of Stone [Paperback]

Xiaolu Guo
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

4 Aug 2005
Village of Stone brilliantly evokes the harshness of life on the typhoon-battered coast of China, where fishermen are often lost to violent seas and children regularly swept away. It is the beautiful, haunting story of one little girl's struggle to endure silence, solitude and the shame of sexual abuse, but it is also an incisive portrait of China's new urban youth, who have hidden behind their modern lifestyle all the poverty and cruelty of their past.

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Village Of Stone + 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth + A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (4 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099459078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099459071
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 90,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A refreshing departure from much of the recent Chinese fiction to reach these shores. The language has the pared-down simplicity of a fable; the effect is a bit like that of a Haruki Murakami novel" (Times Literary Supplement)

"Open this book and you will see a Chinese girl stepping towards you out of China's past and into its present, with all her dreams and striving" (Xinran)

"Exquisitely written and intricately contructed" (Independent)

"Reading it is rather like finding yourself in a dream: "once upon a time..." People are going to like this book very much... What could have been a misery of a story has the mysterious charm of a fairy tale or a legend" (Doris Lessing)

Book Description

'Reading it is rather like finding yourself in a dream... People are going to like this book very much' Doris Lessing.

Xiaolu Guo wsa named as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists 2013.

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Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is a fast-moving, deeply affecting tale of childhood suffering and survival on the fringes of modern China - a fishing community on a remote island, in fact - interwoven with the love between the young adult survivor and her Western frisbee-obsessed lover living in a Beijing basement apartment. Told with elegant simplicity at a fast clip, the novel is never dull and has a strong narrative drive, into which is woven Chinese culture and history along with a good dose of self questioning.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Striking 13 Feb 2009
At first glance this book seems dull and sentimental - a novel about a village.

It is in actual fact extremely enjoyable. It features the female narrator's memoirs about her childhood in the village, interspersed with passages in her present life.
The chapters dealing with the village offer fantastic views and a panaorama of life in a fishing village, if perhaps a little long in places.

The parts featuring her present life are funny due mainly to the character Red, her partner, and their banter. Guo renders their shared life in a high rise flat with great wit and charm.

This is a special novel that simply leaves a good feeling.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Read 12 Feb 2008
I was made aware of this author when I listened to Women's Hour on BBC Radio 4. Yes, I do listen to such programs now and again! Not only the fact that the author is Chinese but she has the family name "Guo", which is the same as my wife's (Lixin Guo).

It's probably understandable that I have a particular curiosity about all things Chinese but when the author is serialised on Radio 4 and has the same name as my wife, I just had to read her works.

Even if you have no direct connection with China this book makes a beautiful read. It has its tragic parts but despite them it is just so optimistic. Written in an autobiographical style, although I don't know how much of the story is biographical, it was none the less a book I really enjoyed reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great 21 Jan 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A fresh and original talent describing the development of a young Chinese girl from poverty and abuse to a better future.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Village of Stone 18 Aug 2009
By Mads Pihl Rasmussen - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
One day a dried eel arrives in the mail, at the Beijing apartment where Coral lives with her boyfriend Red. No explanation on the package. Just a giant eel wrapped in paper, filling up the fridge, and feeding the two twenty-somethings for weeks.

The eel comes from the Village of Stone, where Coral grew up. She now lives in the city with the frisbee-obsessed, jobless, someday-a-better-life-than-this dreamer Red, but the eel ignites Coral's memories of her childhood in a village depending on small-scale fishing off a rugged coast beneath steep mountains, which Coral describes this way:

"The sea was all the Village of Stone had, the only nature it possessed. The village was built on a peninsula with no rivers, lakes or farmland, just the craggy, desolate mountain behind it that sloped down to the sea. The inhabitants of the Village of Stone built their houses, row upon row of them, on the lower slopes of the mountain, so that all the streets were at a sharo incline. This was partly to protect the houses from the tide, but, more importantly, to prevent them from being swept away by the frequent typhoons". [p. 11-12].

The Village of Stone is one of those Somewhere On A Remote Coast villages. This is where Coral grew up, without parents, raised by her grandparents in an environment of absolute domestic hostility based on misunderstandings and overzealous pride. Coral tries to negotiate the stairs inside the house separating her grandmother and grandfather, who haven't spoken in years, and who will never reconcile. But ultimately Coral is faced with being just a small girl in a small village who is pushed around by life without being able to ever really push back.

Maybe that is why, looking back from urban life in her twenties, she remembers the fantastical and emphasizes the mythical sides of the Village of Stone. Her former home has now become an "out there", where the villagers lived in fear of pirates marauding through the seawashed streets, and where the neighboring family had nine girls in a row and kept asking for a boy, finally naming their latest girl Boy Waiting. This was a village more in the sea than by the sea, storm torn and wave battered. At least that is how Coral remembers it. Coral. The name of an often beautiful creature hiding beneath the surf.

Or maybe these memories act as a necessary screen fencing her off from the incidents that eventually shaped much of her current being?

Coral's story could be reduced to the teenager's struggle to survive and escape a confined home space. But in her case escape is not just from the mental prison of a seawe(e)d life, it is the actual escape from sexual abuse perpetrated by the village mute. It is escape from village scorn after an affair with the school teacher that got her pregnant and forced her to an abortion. It is, as another reviewer [...]has pointed out, also about the "contrast between the anomie of modern Chinese urban life, and the ancient but fast-vanishing traditional universe of the countryside".

City life for Coral is fundamentally different first of all because it is not village life. The move signifies not only personal change but also social change as it reflects the ongoing global march from rural to metropolitan life. However, Coral and Red struggle to get by, Red searches the city for a proper job, their apartment is run down, the toilet is constantly clogged, and the tone of daily life is not always in contrast to the tone of stories from the village.

China in this novel reminds me of grey skies and the sound of waves on rocks. But my world of references and my knowledge of China will not pay fair tribute to what Xiaolu has done with Village of Stone. With its legends, myths, and rain-soaked setting it is story that reminds me of William Heinesen's "The Lighthouse at the End of the World". But in the end it is just as much a moving story about reconciling with the past and moving on through life written in a simple, beautiful prose that calms the typhoons and keeps the pirates at bay.
4.0 out of 5 stars Xialo Guo romans are always very good... 14 Oct 2013
By dg - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I just love this story about the difficult life of a young girl living in a fishing village where she was raise by her granparents after losing hers...The vivid description of each characters...the influence of communism in the remote village...the relationship between villagers , the victims of abusers treatment and the difficult adaptation of strangers in this close community are all subject treated through the life of this young and courageous women. Xioluo always making a link between
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