Guo Xiaolu at PEN America and Asia Society

Guo Xiaolu

Writer and filmmaker Guo Xiaolu (郭小橹 / 郭小櫓), named in 2013 as one of Granta‘s Best of Young British Novelists and whom we consider one of the most original and fascinating Chinese writers today, has two events in New York this week.

First, on Tuesday, September 9, she joins quirky and vivacious singer-songerwriter and actress Nellie McKay and writer and musician Sasha Frere-Jones in PEN America’s What Can’t be Sung: Xiaolu Guo and Nellie McKay in Conversation with Sasha Frere-Jones for a discussion that asks: “Do novelists, poets, and musicians explore culture in different ways? How do they tell stories of introspection? Do the processes of writing music and writing literature speak to each other? How do they map the past and present in our increasingly connected world?”

Nellie McKay – “The Dog Song”:

Tuesday, September 9, 7:30 PM
Ace Hotel, 20 W. 29th Street
$25/$20 for PEN Members with code

On Wednesday, September 10, Guo visits Asia Society to discuss I Am China, a novel about political and cultural exile which The Independent an “extraordinary and important book”.  She tells the story of a London-based Chinese-language translator who pieces together 20-years of disjointed diaries of and letters between two artists and lovers separated by geography and political circumstance.  The Guardian writes:

“Guo’s picture of the dislocation that afflicts all the characters as they struggle through atomised lives, where the relative freedoms of exile are counted against cultural nostalgia and loss of certainty as once-cherished meaning is stripped away. Cultural references, from Johnny Rotten to Erik Satie, are refracted through a lens of Chinese politics…The closing line of his own manifesto, particularly resonant in this 25th anniversary year of the Tiananmen protests, informs the title of the book. ‘I am China,’ he writes ‘We are China. The people. Not the state.'”

Read an excerpt and reviews by The Independent, NPR, and The Guardian.

Guo will also present excerpts from Once Upon a Time Proletarian, a 12-chapter documentary film that studies the different classes and diversity of people in modern, post-China, and UFO in Her Eyes, a fable about a village that unexpectedly becomes wealthy.

Once Upon a Time Proletarian:

Guo Xiaolu Poetry Reading:

UFO in Her Eyes Clips:

Wednesday, September 10, 6:30 – 8:30 PM
Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue
$10/members; $12 students/seniors; $15 nonmembers.

Photo: Courtesy of Guo Xiaolu