23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Xiaolu Guo
© Hartwig Klappert

Xiaolu Guo

Xiaolu Guo was born in 1973 and grew up in southern China. She studied at the Film Academy of Beijing and the National Film and Television School in London. As a prizewinning, but censorship-restricted writer of screenplays, she initially published several acclaimed and widely translated novels. In 2002, Guo moved to London and realized several documentary and feature films that have been screened at international festivals, in addition to writing »A concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers« (2007), her debut in English.

Her satirical novel, »UFO in Her Eyes« (2009), set in a southern Chinese village after a supposed alien landing, is a clear reflection of the discrepancy between provincial Chinese attitudes and the breathtakingly rapid mechanisms of economic development. She adapted it herself in 2011, with Udo Kier as an American mistaken for an extraterrestrial. Guo’s latest novel, »I Am China« (2014), makes use of a metafictional device creating a contemporary variation of the traditional epistolary novel across languages and continents. The young London translator, Iona, receives a bundle of Chinese letters and diary entries from a publisher. Translation of the correspondence successively reveals a love story between the rock musician, Jian, and a student from the south, Mu, who first met at Beijing University shortly after the Tiananmen Square Massacre. After Jian distributes a manifesto at a concert, he is first imprisoned and then forced into exile. Mu urgently attempts to track him down. Touching upon the development of the democracy movement, including the Jasmine protests of February 2011, Guo contrasts the revolt against state repression, in particular Jian’s conviction that »art is a policy of perpetual revolution«, with Iona’s indifferent English serenity. Iona finally decides to break out of her passivity and to commit herself to the couple, who have become strangely familiar. This change of mind immediately reveals the political dimension of her reading.

Guo was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Orange Prize, and the Man Asian Literary Prize and is the winner of the Pearl Award for Creative Excellence. In 2009, her film, »She, a Chinese«, was honored at the International Film Festival of Locarno with a Golden Leopard. The literary magazine »Granta« listed her among the Best Young British Novelists of the year in 2013. Guo lives in London, and was a guest of the DAAD Artists in Residence program in Berlin in 2014. This year, she is a Writer in Residence for Zurich Literature House in Switzerland.


Stadt der Steine
München, 2005
[Ü: Anne Rademacher]
Kleines Wörterbuch für Liebende
München, 2008
[Ü: Anne Rademacher]
20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth
Chatto & Windus
London, 2008
Ein Ufo, dachte sie
München, 2009
[Ü: Anne Rademacher]
Ich bin China
München, 2015
[Ü: Anne Rademacher]