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Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: A…
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Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: A Novel (original 2000; edition 2002)

by Dai Sijie (Author)

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6,0902101,184 (3.58)412
Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress tells the story of two hapless city boys exiled to a remote mountain village for re-education during China's infamous Cultural Revolution. There the two friends meet the daughter of the local tailor and discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation. As they flirt with the seamstress and secretly devour these banned works, the two friends find transit from their grim surroundings to worlds they never imagined.… (more)
Member:donerj
Title:Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: A Novel
Authors:Dai Sijie (Author)
Info:Anchor Books (2002), 184 pages
Collections:downtown, Your library
Rating:
Tags:fiction, downtown

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Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie (2000)

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» See also 412 mentions

English (186)  Spanish (6)  French (5)  Italian (4)  Catalan (4)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (210)
Showing 1-5 of 186 (next | show all)
I liked this book about young Chinese men who learn about life and love during China's Cultural Revolution. ( )
  krin5292 | Sep 3, 2020 |
Fun Characters, Transparent Motives

"Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" is a novel with a strong beginning but it fails to develop. It is written by Dai Sijie and translated from the original French by Ina Rilke.

It is set during the Cultural Revolution in China when students from big cities were "sent down" to rural areas in order to "learn from the masses." Most novels and memoirs of these period speak of awful deprivations, including public denunciations, little food, and harsh labor conditions. The two boys in this novel, however, seem to live very well in comparison. Their biggest physical challenge seems to be the fact that they are living above a pig sty, which has no impact whatsoever on their beings. There is little mention of their farm labor and they seem to spend the majority of their time telling stories, going to the cinema in a neighboring village, playing violin, and smoking cigarettes. Their experience seems more like a camping trip.

Balzac comes into play when the two boys find out that another "sent down" youth nearby has several foreign novels hidden in his suitcase. The boys develop a fascination with Balzac. The novel quite quickly becomes a transparent homage to the "power" of French literature, including Baudelaire and Dumas and Rimbaud and every other classic French author. These foreign writers immediately transform the boys from naive children to self-aware, critical young men. The point of the book seems to showcase the transformative power Western literature can have on Chinese people. This is the major fault of the book.

Another fault of the book is the one-dimensional nature of the characters. This is influenced by their quick susceptibility to being transformed by French authors. However, the "Little Chinese Seamstress" is also flat. She is a delicate, blossoming young woman who is sought after by all the young men in the surrounding areas. One of the boys is able to capture her heart by relating to her stories of Balzac.

In the end, "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" is the author's perception that French literature conquers the hearts and minds of anyone who comes into its' contact. ( )
  mvblair | Aug 8, 2020 |
just delightful ( )
  leebill | Apr 30, 2020 |
A simple, charming story, quick to read at under 200 pages. The story of two young men in China during the Cultural Revolution who are relocated to a remote village. There they meet a young seamstress, find a stash of illegal, forbidden books and delve into the delights of reading and love. Recommended. ( )
  Terrie2018 | Feb 21, 2020 |
Very charming book! I loved the subject matter of the Cultural Revolution, as this is something I find fascinating. The novel featured wonderful characters, settings, and a short, fast pacing that made for an overall enjoyable read. I've tried to locate the movie, as I've heard it's quite good, as well, but can't seem to find it. I'll continue to be on the lookout for it, as I think the settings would be beautiful to see in a film. ( )
  BookishHooker | Dec 16, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 186 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (94 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dai Sijieprimary authorall editionscalculated
Häupl, MichaelForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Induni, Giò WaeckerlinÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marfany, MartaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mottinger, RudolfContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rilke, InaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schneider, HelmutInterviewersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Suni, AnnikkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The village headman, a man of about fifty, sat cross-legged in the centre of the room, close to the coals burning in a hearth that was hollowed out of the floor; he was inspecting my violin.
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Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress tells the story of two hapless city boys exiled to a remote mountain village for re-education during China's infamous Cultural Revolution. There the two friends meet the daughter of the local tailor and discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation. As they flirt with the seamstress and secretly devour these banned works, the two friends find transit from their grim surroundings to worlds they never imagined.

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