SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARDXiaolu Guo meets her parents for the first time when she is almost seven. They are strangers to her. When she is born in 1973, her parents hand her over to a childless peasant couple in the mountains. Aged two, and suffering from malnutrition on a diet of yam leaves, they leave Xiaolu with her illiterate grandparents in a fishing village on the East China Sea. Once Upon a Time in the East takes Xiaolu from a run-down shack to film school in a rapidly changing Beijing, navigating the everyday peculiarity of modern China- censorship, underground art, Western boyfriends. In 2002 she leaves Beijing on a scholarship to study in Britain. Now, after a decade in Europe, her tale of East to West resonates with the insight that can only come from someone who is both an outsider and at home.'This generation's Wild Swans' Daily Telegraph
Short-listed for Costa Biography Award 2018 (UK).
"Stunning...This book will make your jaw drop, then clench in anger." -- Helen Brown * Telegraph * "Guo is rebellious, flamboyant and fundamentally optimistic...fascinating." -- Stuart Kelly * Scotland on Sunday * "Riveting...Guo is an angrier, bolder, more ambitious figure than her forebears." * The Times * "Utterly compelling... She writes superbly about her struggle to escape the constraints of gender, poverty and state interference. This extraordinary memoir will enhance her burgeoning reputation." -- Ian Critchley * Sunday Times * "Aside from the fast-paced plot, this is most interesting for its probing portrayal of Guo's ambivalent relationship with her homeland... An impressive feature of this moving and often exhilarating book is the brutality of her portrait of her parents." -- Lara Feigel * Financial Times *
Xiaolu Guo was born in south China. She studied film at the Beijing Film Academy and published six books in China before she moved to London in 2002. Her books include Village of Stone which was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth which was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, and I Am China which was longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. In 2013 she was named as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. Xiaolu has also directed several award-winning films including She, A Chinese and a documentary about London, Late at Night. She lives in London and Berlin.