Nine Continents by Xiaolu Guo

Nine Continents

Xiaolu Guo is one of the most acclaimed Chinese-born writers of her generation, an iconoclastic and completely contemporary voice. Her vivid, poignant memoir, Nine Continents is the story of a curious mind coming of age in an inhospitable country, and her determination to seek a life beyond the limits of its borders.Xiaolu Guo has traveled further than most to become who she needed to be. Now, as she experiences the birth of her daughter in a Lon...

Details Nine Continents

TitleNine Continents
Release DateOct 3rd, 2017
PublisherGrove Press
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Cultural, China, Nonfiction, Biography, Asia

Reviews Nine Continents

  • Hannah
    Absolutely wonderful memoir by a woman beyond impressive. She talks about alienation and perseverance, about loss and art, about growing up and finding herself, and everything in-between. Xiaolu Guo's life sounds like something out of a movie: born to an intellectual who had spent time in a labour camp and a mother who was part of the Red Guard (yes, her parents met in prison), given away at birth, and then given back to her grandparents (both an...
  • Laura
    An introspective view of the author's life in China. I cannot imagine growing up as she had - starting in a poor fishing village living with her grandparents, then moving with her parents to a town where her life wasn't much better. While the book is a memoir, it does have quite a bit of history of China and its people. All around an excellent book if you are particularly interested in this time period of China.
  • Peter Tillman
    This was a pretty unpleasant read. The author had a very hard childhood, a hard student and young-adult life, and was lonely and unhappy when she moved to the UK, on a film-school scholarship that turned into a permanent move. The book does end on a more positive note.I skimmed much of the most unpleasant material, and I wouldn't advise reading the memoir when you are feeling low. It's shocking how poorly girls and women are treated in China, if ...
  • Melinda
    Upon the birth of her daughter in England, writer and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo reflects on her life up to this point: her early years raised by her grandparents in a Chinese fishing village by the sea, her school years with her parents in an industrial town, her delve into film studies in a rapidly changing Beijing.It's a fascinating life story, with sharp commentary on misogyny and art. I hadn't realized Guo was the author of A Concise Chinese-Engli...
  • Carol Douglas
    Xialu Guo's memoir takes us back to a tiny fishing village in China. Her parents couldn't care for her when she was a baby, so her mother gave her to another poor couple to raise. By the time the couple found her grandparents and took her to them, she was starving to death. Her grandmother managed to revive her.Life in the fishing village was hard. Her grandfather had loved to fish along the coast, but fishing was collectivized. He had to fish as...
  • Juliana
    My review:
  • Rhonda Lomazow
    An open real raw look into a world few of us know.Xiaolu shares with us her childhood her raising by her grandparents in their very primitive world her grandmother had bound feet,Her parents finally coming to get her bringing her into their world the world of commune living communist sharing rules life style.Finally her life outside of China .Living in London publishing books&the biggest surprise to her having a baby with her western partner,Fasc...
  • Enchanted Prose
    The remarkable journey of an artist (Shitang, Wenling, Beijing, China to London; 1970s – 2016): Starving is the first word that comes to mind reflecting on the vitality and accomplishments of an artist growing up under the Communist regime of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution and its aftermath. For it seems Xiaolu Guo has been starving much of her life. Starved for food, family, freedoms, affection, love, individuality, dignity.Calling herself...
  • Flavia
    I have loved and found Xiaolu Guo’s fiction so fresh and original since ‘A Concise Chinese – English Dictionary for Lovers’. I was thrilled when I discovered that she had written a memoir and ‘Nine Continents’ didn’t disappoint. At all. Far from it, I found this book absorbing, inspiring and beautifully rendered. This memoir is the story of an artist; it’s also an essay on ambition, determination and the transformative aspect of c...
  • Elainedav
    I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.I like to read memoirs and especially those where the author is writing about something which really holds your interest. This is one of those books. I found the description of the author's childhood totally absorbing. Her life in a small fishing village, living with her grandparents, was so totally different to my own childhood in the UK. And then suddenly her parents appea...
  • Brenda
    Excellent memoir. It is an eye opening experience to read about growing up female in communist China. Xiaolu was given away as a small child, only to be returned to her grandparents when her adoptive family couldn't afford to feed her. She spends her childhood growing up in a small fishing village with her abusive grandfather and sweet grandmother. She is later reunited with her parents. Her mother and dislikes her and makes it clear she's not we...
  • Jill Dobbe
    The shocking revelations of a young Chinese woman who grew up in poverty stricken China. From a young age, Xialou, rebelled against the plight of Chinese women, and the old fashioned ways of the proletariat. An artist, poet, filmmaker, and writer, the author eventually found her way out of China and embarked on the life she wanted for herself.I highly recommend this book for readers who are interested in China's history and growth. Thank you Netg...
  • Kelly
    A fantastic insight into Chinese lifestyle and traditions and evolution for the women of China. A truthful and thought provoking read that offers fantastic descriptions, visualisation and honesty into a very difficult time.
  • Breakaway Reviewers
    Autobiography of a fighter and survivor“The girl is a peasant warrior”, the old monk announced. “She will cross the sea and travel to the Nine Continents.” So said the Daoshi, a Taoist monk, to whom the very young Xiaolu was once taken by her deeply religious grandmother. These prophetic words laid down the pattern for Xiaolu’s life. As a tiny baby, she was taken by her parents to be fostered by a simple peasant couple living in the hil...
  • Jessica Taskinen
    Nine Continents is the story of someone struggling to find the place where they belong. Xiaolu always longed for a place to call home. She was raised until she was seven by her grandparents in a village steeped in tradition and drowning in old wives tales. Fear abounded, and the villagers dined on gossip, which was easier, at times, to find then food. Xiaolu brings to life her memories of growing up in what she termed a village from the Qing dyna...
  • Joyce
    This book is a window not only into the life of Xiaolu Guo, the author, but the lives that many people lived in the 1970s to the 1990s in China. When I read this book, I had the thought in the back of my mind that I didn't quite want to admit; maybe this would offer some insight into my mother. My mother is from much the same background as Guo, born in almost the same year. They both have heritage in the poor villages of China's South. They both ...
  • Harry Miller
    The beginning of this memoir, describing the author's childhood in south China, reads like an account of hell for both men and women but mostly for women (perhaps for men and therefore for women, because men in hell take consolation in putting women through hell). Ms. Guo gets ideas of a better life from art, especially Western literature, and sets her sights on film schools, first in Beijing and then in the UK.Interestingly, her finding a new li...
  • Melody
    This part coming-of-age, part memoir chronicles Chinese-born writer, Xiaolu Guo's journey from her homeland in Shitang (a fishing village where her grandparents reside) to the West. For those who aren't familiar with Xiaolu Guo, she is the author of A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (her first novel written in English and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction) and her latest release, I Am China, which I adored (one of my ...
  • Jordan Stivers
    I'm not typically a memoir fan as the story usually suffers from that first person bias that comes with telling your own life events. I picked this book up solely as an amateur historian interested in a first-person account of post-Mao China. I never expected that I would get to read my favorite memoir of the year. Guo's memoir is a world apart from so many that I have read. It starts slowly and small, as the tale of a young girl abandoned by her...
  • Mainlinebooker
    In this raw poignant memoir,Xiaolu explores her life as a young child through her adulthood, from the impoverished village of Shitang, China to the cosmopolitan world of London. We first learn that she was given away to another family but then returned to her grandparents at age 2 due to their inability to feed her and her resultant malnutrition. Growing up she experienced unexpressed love from her grandmother but a mute response from her grandfa...
  • Diane Payne
    In some ways, this memoir was more about the author and her mother than living in America, England or China. I wish there had been conversations about the sexual and physical abuse with her parents, her mother in particular, since she felt so relieved to share the details of being assaulted as a young teen with her dorm mates when she went to college. Unlike most Chinese who grew up in rural areas, Guo not only escaped the poverty, but readers le...
  • Milky Mixer
    I've been a Xiaolu Guo fan since "A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers" was published in the USA. I've collected and read all of her books and even chanced to see a couple of her independently made movies. Her blunt, romantic writing and her nomadic mystique always left me inspired and wanting to know more about her. So I enjoyed her memoir, though I do wish she had spent a little more time discussing her works, methods, and muses, esp...
  • Katie
    A younger, fiercer, feminist Wild Swans. Blunt language, which was sometimes jarring and created distance, but was often refreshing. (Especially when Guo makes the choice to name the man who sexually abused her as a child. There's no great explanation, no apparent fear. A simple naming, a stripping of the anonymity that this man is maybe still living behind, somewhere in Wenling, China.) This book probably won't be of interest to anyone who isn't...
  • Janilyn Kocher
    Nine Continents was a sad story to read. The author was abandoned by two sets of parents before spending her formative years with her grandparents who barely scraped by. Then she went to live with her biological parents and suffered. She found solace in her father but was never close to her mother. She seemed to just drift thorough life, waiting. Finally, she earned a place at cinema school in Beijing and then moved to England. This book is an en...
  • Lynn Wyvill
    The story help my interest, although towards the end it became a bit pedantic. It was not a quick read. Chapters spilled under chapters, so this was a concentrated read. I was particularly intrigued by the author's fascination with the Chinese symbols and their meaning. It was beautiful to her and she made it beautiful to me. And the struggles as she learned to perfect her English were laid out in the best way I've ever read, as she butts head ag...
  • Jacqueline
    I don't usually enjoy memoirs, but the premise of this one sounded interesting because it mixed personal history with a historical background on China after the Cultural Revolution. I felt a lot of ..feelings while I read this (I know, I'm so articulate). This is one of those books I would describe as truly exemplifying why I love to read: to connect with someone, real or fictional, and finding connection and meaning in their story, despite diffe...
  • Donia
    Brutally honest memoir about growing up female in raw poverty in China. This book was depressing but worth the read. If nothing else, it proves that the human spirit can conquer immense difficulties. I found the last 1/4 of the story less rewarding in that the description of her life in London seemed sterile and gray.
  • Katherine
    I really enjoyed reading this memoir. If you like Wild Swans by Jung Chang, this is slightly more contemporary. While Jung’s family was higher class, Xiaolu grew up a peasant. Both found their own way out of China. Xiaolu’s writing is stunning and her story is remarkable. The audiobook is A+.
  • Beverly
    Thoughts coming shortly
  • John
    Excellent book. Best read I had since last year when "A gentleman in Moscow came out." Captivating and very hard to put down. Book of the year for me!