Radical

R370.00

Radicals, or bushous, are the building blocks of Chinese characters; they are the “root” from which all words get their meaning. In this feminist lexicon, as she threads together her search for creative and personal freedom, Guo illuminates the integral role language plays in forming our sense of self.

Radical is an individual and etymological journey, and an ardent love letter. It is an expression of one artist’s fascination with Western culture and her nostalgia for Eastern landscapes, and an attempt to describe the space in between.

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Radical

The world can seem strange and lonely when you step away from your family and everything you have tried to call your own. Yet beauty may also appear. In the autumn of 2019 Xiaolu travelled to New York to take up her position as a visiting professor for a year, leaving her child and partner behind in London. The encounter with American culture and people threatens her sense of identity and throws her into a crisis – of meaning, desire, obligation and selfhood.

This is a memoir about separation – by continents, by language, and from people. It’s about being an outsider and the desperate longing to connect. Xiaolu uses her exploration of language (one of the meanings of the word ‘radical’ is the graphic component, or root, of Chinese characters), and her own life, to create this unique text. At once a memoir, a dictionary, and an ardent love letter, it is an expression of her fascination with Western culture and her nostalgia for Eastern landscapes, and an attempt to describe the space in between. An archive of an artist’s search for creative freedom, it is above all else an intimate account of her efforts to carve out a life of her own.

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