Me no speekee Eengeeleeshee
I was drawn to this book by its bright cover and interesting title, and the easy flow of words carried me past the first few chapters very soon. The story is told by a 23-year-old Chinese woman who comes to spend a year in
English life is described and even with few words and poor grammar, there is beauty and poetry in the narration. Zhuang introduces herself as Z because no one can pronounce her name. She lives at first in a hostel, but soon looks for cheaper accommodation: “I checking all cheap flats on LOOT in Zone 1 and 2 of
People shout at her, but they also avoid her, considering her very rude – though this is not innate rudeness but just a manner of speaking perfectly normal in her culture.
As a result of a misunderstanding (he says to her, “be my guest”) she moves into the home of a man she has just recently met and they become lovers. He is much older, and wants her to learn to be independent, so convinces her to travel to
This book is rich with feeling. But more than just showing the difference between the feelings of an English man and those of a Chinese woman, their different expectations, habits, ways of thinking and so on, the book also gives a glimpse into their differing political views and, most interestingly, their differing philosophies. And it is the English man who believes in “living IN the moment” while the Buddhist woman who wants to plan for the future and who, having by now developed a far greater grasp of the language, accuses him of “living FOR the moment.”