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A Lover's Discourse Reviews

A Lover's Discourse by Xiaolu Guo

A Lover's Discourse

Xiaolu Guo

4.00 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Chatto & Windus
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publication date: 13 Aug 2020
ISBN: 9781784743499

'It is hard not to be impressed by Guo's vivacious talent' Sunday Times A story of desire, love and language - and the meaning of home - told through conversations between two lovers A Chinese woman comes to London to start a new life, away from her old world.

4 stars out of 5
9 Aug 2020

"In a series of lyrical short chapters Guo reflects on isolation, misunderstandings and the search for home"

There is a certain overlap between the writing of Guo and other, especially female, authors from the Chinese diaspora such as Yiyun Li and Chia-Chia Lin: the superb poetic quality of the prose, the pessimism, the themes of family, migration and transplantation, the notion of memory and the quest for agency. Each writer, however, retains a strong individual character, and that’s certainly true for A Lover’s Discourse. Here Guo has pared down every tiny chapter to its poetic essence so as to let the largest themes emerge, thus taking the reader from the verbal to something approaching the numinous.


4 stars out of 5
Claire Allfree
6 Aug 2020

"There’s a bloodlessness to Guo’s writing that cannot compensate for her intriguingly skittish vernacular and uniquely angled gaze."

The EU referendum has recently occurred, but its presence is more thematic than political, in a novel mainly concerned with the irresolvable tensions between communication and difference, desire and selfhood.

Yet, ironically, I found it hard to connect with this story. There’s a bloodlessness to Guo’s writing that cannot compensate for her intriguingly skittish vernacular and uniquely angled gaze.

4 stars out of 5
6 Aug 2020

"an intriguing new novel of alienation and belonging"

The narrator shares her misunderstandings of language, which are meant to be funny but end up just making her look stupid – an invitation to a Liverpool versus Arsenal football match, for example throws her. She thought Arsenal was just a weapons factory and she is mystified by her boyfriend describing himself as a WASP. As the title suggests, it is more discourse than plot-driven novel, which at times feels leaden with too much analysis of emotions. But overall, the impression is of a story told with charm that will leave you in a ponderous mood.