Sunday, July 27, 2008

Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo

Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth is the story of young Fenfang's journey away from the sweet potato fields of her village and into life as a twenty something in modern day Beijing.

Fenfang works as a film extra among other jobs. There she meets Xiaolin an Assistant to the Producer. Though there isn't much actual romance between them they live together with his family for several years. She also befriends an American student named Ben and his cast of friends.

I really enjoying seeing the world through Fenfang's eyes be it her use of the phrase "Heavenly Bastard in the Sky" to the cockroaches in her apartment to her film script outline of "The Seven Reincarnations of Hao An" to the Old Hens in her apartment watching her every move. Fenfang's is a quiet story and for that I truly enjoy it. I don't believe I have ever read anything quite like this before, it's a beautiful portrait of what it's like to be a young woman in modern day China. It's funny, exciting and a little bit sad.

This book is literally told in twenty small atmospheric fragments. I really like how each fragment has a descriptive title. There are also small black and white pictures sprinkled throughout the book. The dust jacket art is just beautiful. I really can't think of a more beautifully designed book and cover.

This book has renewed my interest in visiting Asia and now specifically China. Has a book ever made you want to visit a place? Have you visited that place?

Look for Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth in stores August 5th.
4/5 Stars
Review copy provided by publisher


  1. Great review, I cant wait to read it myself. I like the small black and white pictures and the cover too.
    I recently read 'Beneath A Marble Sky' set in India and based around the building of the Taj Majal. Reading that book did make me want to visit India :)

  2. Great review! I'll have to add it to my wishlist. :)

    The Anne of Green Gables books made me want to go to Prince Edward Island. I have yet to go but will someday!

    13 Little Blue Envelopes has increased my desire to travel Europe. I'll do that someday too. :P

  3. So sorry for the quadruple comment!

  4. Naida- I'd give anything to go to India. I'm obsessed with their culture!!! Can't wait for your review

    Ambeen- LOL that's ok. I deleted them. I have 13 Little Blue Envelopes, I can't wait to read it! I'd been to the UK/Scotland but that's pretty much it. I'd love to see more!

  5. Anonymous11:29 AM

    This book does sound really good. Great review!

  6. Tracy- Thanks! I really liked it. I felt like I read it in the blink of an eye. It's rather short, I wonder if it's actually a novella. The line between a novel and novella is sort of blurry.


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