Z is a 23-year-old Chinese language student who has come to London to learn English. When the book begins she can barely ask for a cup of tea, but when language comes, so does love. As she gets to know British culture she also falls for an older English man who lives a resolutely bachelor life in Hackney. It’s a million miles away from the small Chinese town she comes from, where her parents want nothing more for her than that she should follow them into the shoe business. Z learns about sex, humour, companionship and passion, but she also learns the painful truth that language is also a barrier and the more you know about it, the less you understand.
Written in short chapters, each the definition of a word, this is a brilliantly clever book that pokes fun at England and China and explores the endless possibilities for misunderstanding between East and West, men and women.