book cover of My Battle of Hastings

My Battle of Hastings

A non fiction book by

'One of the most valuable writers in the world' Deborah Levy

Embodiment, assimilation, integration – these are big words, but they seem to name a stage or a state I ought to be able to achieve in my brief life.

In winter 2021, Xiaolu Guo moved into a tiny dilapidated flat on the Hastings seafront, a room of her own where she could spend time writing away from her domestic duties as a mother and wife in London. As Russia invaded Ukraine, she immersed herself in the English landscape and its past, especially the violence between Normans and Saxons.

My Battle of Hastings is a chronicle of Xiaolu’s life in Hastings and a portrait of a dislocated artist seeking to connect with her local environment in the hope of finding a deeper connection to her adoptive nation. Filled with profound, beautiful and wry reflections on war, history, migration and belonging, Xiaolu’s journey into the past completes the triptych of memoirs that began with Once Upon a Time in the East, charting her childhood in China, then continued with Radical: A Life of My Own in search of a freedom beyond her home.

My Battle of Hastings is above all an exploration of how an immigrant, an outsider and a woman can embrace local and national history.

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