20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Life as a film extra in Beijing might seem hard, but Fenfang won't be defeated.

She has travelled 1800 miles to seek her fortune in the city, and has no desire to return to the never-ending sweet potato fields back home.

Determined to live a modern life, Fenfang works as a cleaner in the Young Pioneer's movie theatre, falls in love with unsuitable men and keeps her kitchen cupboard stocked with UFO instant noodles.

As Fenfang might say, Heavenly Bastard in the Sky, isn't it about time I got my lucky break?

Longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize.




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20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth is an interesting and touching book that tells the story of a young Chinese girl from a poor village who moves to Beijing. As the title tells us, the story is told in twenty 'fragments', stories from her youth either in her peasant village with her family or in Beijing where she is trying to become an actress. They are not in chronological order, so the book reads like a conversation where someone is telling you things as they occur to her. The translation is excellent, and the voice of the main character Fenfang is refreshing and honest, whilst still sounding vaguely childlike. She is a real person from the first page.This story works in many different ways, both as a frank and illuminating study of modern day Beijing and an intimate and hopeful coming-of-age story. As a teenager, I find many of Fenfang's emotions and thoughts painfully familiar, but her journey towards adulthood never loses the ability to surprise me. Very, very good.