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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

by

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress Cover

ISBN13: 9780375413094
ISBN10: 037541309x
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"A wonderful novel....Dai Sijie demonstrates that, in a time when freedom is in short supply, lessons about liberty from another time or tradition...can be an inspiration to those who wish to escape." Stephanie Hull, Chicago Tribune

Review:

"A mesmerizing story, classic and new, fabulist and gritty in its realism, full of riches as in the best of tales. My imagination and heart were seized." Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club

Review:

"Few if any books that are mailed to me strike me as worth recommending. I recommend this book highly. I myself was also secretly introduced to Western cutlure through literature during the Cultural Revolution when I first read a hand copied Chinese translation of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Dai Sijie does an excellent job showing this experience. Anyone who wants to understand how Western art and literature influences the Chinese mindset should read this book." Anchee Min, author of Red Azalea and Becoming Madame Mao

Review:

"The warmth and humor of Sijie's prose and the clarity of Rilke's translation distinguish this slim first novel, a wonderfully human tale." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"A funny, touching, sly, and altogether delightful novel." Washington Post Book World

Synopsis:

An enchanting literary debut—already an international best-seller.

At the height of Maos 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.

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 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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

mjraney, October 19, 2009 (view all comments by mjraney)
I thought this book was a huge waste of time. I did not like the characters, could not care less what happened to them. I actually thought 're-education' was good for them. The book is poorly written as well, with false climaxes that go nowhere. I did not feel the horror of the cultural revolution at all. do not waste your time with this book. There are much better books about China.
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(0 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
peterchan08103, May 29, 2007 (view all comments by peterchan08103)
kl
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(7 of 13 readers found this comment helpful)
Tessa, August 18, 2006 (view all comments by Tessa)
Luminously written novel set in a remote Chinese village during the time of the Cultural Revolution.
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(4 of 12 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780375413094
Translator:
Dai, Sijie
Author:
Rilke, Ina
Author:
Dai, Sijie
Author:
Sijie, Dai
Author:
Dai
Author:
Sijie
Publisher:
Knopf
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
China
Subject:
Man-woman relationships
Subject:
Political fiction
Subject:
Prohibited books
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st American ed.
Edition Description:
American
Series Volume:
93
Publication Date:
20010911
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
7.74x4.74x.85 in. .60 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.50 In Stock
Product details 208 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9780375413094 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A wonderful novel....Dai Sijie demonstrates that, in a time when freedom is in short supply, lessons about liberty from another time or tradition...can be an inspiration to those who wish to escape."
"Review" by , "A mesmerizing story, classic and new, fabulist and gritty in its realism, full of riches as in the best of tales. My imagination and heart were seized."
"Review" by , "Few if any books that are mailed to me strike me as worth recommending. I recommend this book highly. I myself was also secretly introduced to Western cutlure through literature during the Cultural Revolution when I first read a hand copied Chinese translation of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Dai Sijie does an excellent job showing this experience. Anyone who wants to understand how Western art and literature influences the Chinese mindset should read this book."
"Review" by , "The warmth and humor of Sijie's prose and the clarity of Rilke's translation distinguish this slim first novel, a wonderfully human tale."
"Review" by , "A funny, touching, sly, and altogether delightful novel."
"Synopsis" by , An enchanting literary debut—already an international best-seller.

At the height of Maos 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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