Hannah Tucker
August 31, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Soon after she arrives in London, a young Chinese woman who goes by the initial Z (”please no worry to remember, my name too long pronounce”) meets her future lover. This unnamed artist invites Z to be a guest at his home and doesn’t object when Z, misunderstanding the offer, moves in. In steadily improving (and comically blunt) English, Z records a year of her sexual discovery and cultural confusion, along with new words like pub, migraine, and bisexual. Xiaolu Guo’s A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary, her first novel in English, is smartly absorbing. A

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