Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

by ThingsAsian Booklist, Aug 21, 2004 | Destinations: China / Beijing

Title: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress.

Author: Dai Sijie. Translated by Ina Rilke.

Publisher: Vintage (2003)

ISBN: 0099452243.

Details: paperback, 172 pages.

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From the back cover:

1971: Mao's Cultural Revolution is at its peak. Two sons of doctors, sent to 're-education' camps, forced to carry buckets of excrement up and down mountain paths, have only their sense of humour to keep them going although the attractive daughter of the local tailor also helps to distract them from the task at hand.

The boys' true re-education starts, however, when they discover a hidden suitcase packed with the great Western novels of the nineteenth century. Their lives are transformed. And not only their lives: after listening to the stories of Balzac, the little seamstress will never be the same again.

About the Author:

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 still lives and works.

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Read the review by Ken Champeon

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