20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo

This book is cool. It`s about China, but with a youthful, raw edge. The protagonist of the story is a very young woman, called Fenfang, living in Beijing. She spends most of the book working as first a cinema cleaner, then a movie extra and finally seems to be entering into a career as a screenwriter.

She shifts through different boyfriends and living arrangements in a similar way. Spending long periods in one less-than-ideal job and relationship before moving on to the next. And we follow her through this procession, learning about life in Beijing for a head-strong young woman as we go. And for me this included a lot of surprises.

I was surprised that laptops and DVDs were as ubiquitous as in a European city - although she complains about the quality. It was surprising to me that such a young woman could afford to live alone - albeit in a towerblock where the neighbours attempted to control her behaviour by calling the Police if she was out late. And it was surprising to me that film directors were just employees of the state like everyone else. She refers to her second boyfriend over the period of years covered in the book as Third Class Director, which is his job title.

It`s a funny and touching book, and I suspect it`s a little autobiographical.