Savidge Reads Grills… Xiaolu Guo

I always get excited at the prospect of a Savidge Reads Grills as I love getting to know authors better. It makes it even more exciting when its an author that you adore and today I have the pleasure of bringing you an interview with the wonderful Xiaolu Guo. If you havent read any of her work then I cannot recommend them enough, pop to yesterdays post to see how much I enjoyed her latest novel Lovers in the Age of Indifference. Anyway on with the grilling.

Savidge Reads is already a huge fan of your work but for those readers out there who may not have read one of your books how would your describe them and where would you say they should start?
Well, it is no good to do self recommendation I guess, but you know, every book has it’s own reader with its own accidental chance, you may pick a book from me in a corner bookshop, and that is something, we say in chinese – yuan fen, an accidental destiny. I can say that I like some of my novels: A Concise Chinese English Dictionary for Lovers, and 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth for example…but you cannot say that.  I always prefer the next one which I am writing….
Where does the inspiration for your books and your characters come from?
Life, life, and life. other’s life, self life, life’s life. 
All your novels tend to have quite kooky female lead characters and yet these women are quite alienated characters too, why is that?
That’s how humans are in this world nowadays….of course, from my point of view. You don’t need to have the same vision like mine.
Though some of the contents of your books are quite hard hitting, for example rape in A Concise Chinese English Dictionary for Lovers, or the poverty and future of China in UFO in Her Eyes, there is also a lot of dark and wry humour, is that intentional in your writing?
Not intentional but natual I would say. It is almost unconcious I would say.  Or I can say these stories are so much in my bones, they presented my visions of this world, me and the story are together, there are not much separation in between.
Describe your typical writing routine, do you have any writers quirks or any writing rituals?
No. Very casual and sometimes rather painful to sit down to write. My problem as a writer is that I don’t like writing, really don’t like the mear act of writing, it is an act of anti body. I prefer do anything other than writing if I can… 
You also make films; do these two occupations work well together? If you had to choose one occupation which would it be?
I like doing films. I don’t think one has to choose one thing. Filmmakings and writings, I like both in a sense that they can provide me very different method via different vision-story, I think film media is great, modern and complicated – that is the charm and power of the visual world when you actually comes from the word-world, the literature world….
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer? Was it an easy thing for you to do?
Very young… my early teenager days. It is not a question of easy or difficult, it is a matter of if one finds the beauty of the literature or not.
So what is next for Xiaolu Guo? You have a new book out in January, what are you working on after that?
A short story collection Lovers in the Age of Indifference just came out in english, which is a book I like very much. 17 stories on lovers’ relations. I am now working on – of course, some new ideas….
Which books and authors inspired you to write? Who do you love to read at the moment?
Too many, and at different stages some books have different importance to me. For example I used to be very much in love with Duras, Modiano, the french literature from 60s and 70s, lately I loved Boris Vian’s novel The Foam Of Daze, and recently a kind of russian literature, for the similar communist background… Sometimes I prefer to not read english literature just because the fact we are too much living in a english speaking world. But when I was younger I loved beat poets and perhaps I still do.
Which other Asian authors would you recommend people MUST run out and buy right now this second, well once they have finished reading this?
That is not my style, I don’t urge people read it is their choices. But I do like chinese writer Zhu Wen, he is very cool, and deep.

A huge thank you to Xiaolu for taking the time to participate in a Savidge Reads Grills you can see more of them with other authors and my Gran here. You can also find out even more about Xiaolu Guo by visiting her website



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21 responses to “Savidge Reads Grills… Xiaolu Guo

  1. novelinsights

    What an insightful Savidge Reads Grills. I liked finding out more about Xiaolu Guo’s thoughts on writing as I enjoyed A Concise Chinese English Dictionary for Lovers. How interesting that she doesn’t really like the physical act of sitting down to write…amazing for someone who is becoming quite prolific!

    • You will have to have a nose through some of her other books when you are next round my dear as she is an author that I think you would really enjoy the more of her books you read. That fact about her writing I found quite insightful too and was suprised. Also must check out Boris Vian and Zhu Wen!

  2. She seems like someone who’s pretty sure of herself and her thoughts, which are always good in an author. I’m now interested in finding out more about Zhu Wen as well, seeing as how she doesn’t want to recommend authors or books, but still felt compelled to mention his name!

    I’m going to try one of her books these days. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

    • I hope you do Michelle as she is definitley one of my favourite modern living authors and I would like everyone to get on the Guo bandwagon as I think she has a lot to offer. I also always forget to say how funny she is!

      I am definitley going to see whether tehre is any Zhu Wen at the library when I next pop there.

  3. Wow – thanks for organising that Simon – fascinating!

  4. What a fascinating interview! She is a very interesting person – very Zen-like. Excellent job Simon!

  5. farmlanebooks

    I haven’t read any Xiaolu Guo yet, but I hope to soon. I love the sound of Zhu Wen too. Cool and deep is just my thing!

    • If you do like deep and cool then Lovers in the Age of Inndifference is for you possibly Jackie (as might all Guo’s work) as its quite thoughtful and deep in a collection of short bursts.

  6. I love the concept of accidental destiny in finding a book a bookshop; that’s happened to me and now I have a label for it.

    I also like her thoughts on too much English in an English-speaking world and reading outwith that monopoly.

  7. Very interesting interview by an author who, until I read your recent review, I’d never heard of. Will definitely be keeping an eye out for her books.

  8. Well, she’s got one thing in common with Colm Toibin: he hates the physical act of writing, too! 😉

  9. Well done, even to get an interview from such a big author. I always enjoy finding out who an author has read myself. I’ve left my thoughts on Village of Stone on your previous post about her books. I will be reading more of her work soon.

    • Thanks Sandra. I mentioned that I am leaving Village of Stone on the previous post as I will have no more of her work to read if I crack that open. I also dont own it and am on a buying ban so its one for my first haul in 2011.

  10. Pingback: Savidge Reads Grills… Dan Rhodes « Savidge Reads

  11. JoV

    You amazed me Simon. You love Xiaolu Guo?!! Me too!! I haven’t met anyone who love Xiaolu Guo, you are the first. I read every one of her book except Village of Stones. I thought the Chinese-English dictionary for lovers is superb. She published a new book recently?? I gotta check this out.

    You are a breath of fresh air Simon. Thank God I stumbled upon your blog! I can’t sit still now, I got to get my hands on her new book NOW!! NOW!! 🙂

    • I am indeed a big fan of Xiaolu Jo. I have been for quite some time and there are a few more fans out there in the blogosphere than you would imagine. Not that I am saying she hasnt a huge fanbase, I just dont see her on many blogs.

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