writers in residence
In Residence
Zurich, Switzerland
June — November 2015

Xiaolu Guo



Xiaolu Guo moves between two cultures, two languages and two genres of art. The daughter of an artist couple. she was born in 1973 and grew up in a fishing village in the south of China. She studied at the Film Academy in Peking, at the same time writing stories and novels. Censorship in China meant that she could not make films, in spite of having been acclaimed as China’s best scriptwriter while still a student. The authories banned her from filming her scripts, yet she was permitted to publish her stories in the form of novels. In 2002 Xiaolu Guo emigrated with a fellowship, inspired among other things by French literature. She lived in Paris and Berlin before settling in London, where she studied at the National Film and TV School and was finally able to make her films.

Since 2007 Xiaolu Guo has been writing in English. She achieved her international breakthrough with her novel A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers (Chatto & Windus 2007), which became an international best-seller, translated from the English into 23 other languages. She is already fairly well acquainted with Switzerland from various visits and readings. She knows Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich and Ticino really well and says, “I find that Switzerland is a very friendly place for my art.” Her film She, a Chinese won the Golden Leopard at the film festival in Locarno in 2009. /// As of April 30, 2015

More media on our writers
A Short Passage

I Am China

“I'm sitting in this foul-smelling little library writing to you like a Mongol who has lost his horse! How pathetic, old bastard sky! But I've no army gearing up for battle, and there are no hills surrounding my room, just a whole pile of legal files and the sound of seagulls screeing somewhere nearby. I try to be USEFUL even when I cannot be used here. I study European history like I did at school, but I am too old to be re-educated! But yes, TO BE USEFUL, that's what I must strive for. Someone has taken the only copy of Das Kapital the library holds, so I don't have anything sensible to read [...].”

— From “I am China” (London, Chatto & Windus 2014)