Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

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Knopf, 2001 - Fiction - 197 pages
103 Reviews
An enchanting literary debut—already an international best-seller.

At the height of Mao’s infamous Cultural Revolution, two boys are among hundreds of thousands exiled to the countryside for “re-education.” The narrator and his best friend, Luo, guilty of being the sons of doctors, find themselves in a remote village where, among the peasants of Phoenix mountain, they are made to cart buckets of excrement up and down precipitous winding paths. Their meager distractions include a violin—as well as, before long, the beautiful daughter of the local tailor.

But it is when the two discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation that their re-education takes its most surprising turn. While ingeniously concealing their forbidden treasure, the boys find transit to worlds they had thought lost forever. And after listening to their dangerously seductive retellings of Balzac, even the Little Seamstress will be forever transformed.

From within the hopelessness and terror of one of the darkest passages in human history, Dai Sijie has fashioned a beguiling and unexpected story about the resilience of the human spirit, the wonder of romantic awakening and the magical power of storytelling.

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It has one of the best, most fitting endings. - LibraryThing
But the writing is both elegant and mesmerizing. - LibraryThing
... slights); the plot develops in an abrupt manner. - LibraryThing
This book has a very odd ending. - LibraryThing

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User Review  - nosajeel - LibraryThing

I thought this was a decent novel, an interesting window into a bizarre episode in global history (the Cultural Revolution), occasionally moving in a coming-of-age type of way, and a reasonably ... Read full review

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User Review  - fefferbooks - LibraryThing

It was pretty good...except for that bizarre 6-page section 3/4ths of the way through, where one portion was told from changing points of view. I have no idea why the author did that, and it was ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
12
Section 3
23
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Born in China in 1954, Dai Sijie is a filmmaker who was himself “re-educated” between 1971 and 1974.
He left China in 1984 for France, where he has lived and worked ever since. This, his first novel, was an overnight sensation when it appeared in France in 2000, becoming an immediate best-seller and winning five prizes. Rights to the novel have been sold in nineteen countries, and it is soon to be made into a film.

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