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Balzac y la joven costurera China by Sijie…

Balzac y la joven costurera China (original 2000; edition 2001)

by Sijie Dai, Manuel Serrat Crespo (Translator)

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5,112175874 (3.6)370
Title:Balzac y la joven costurera China
Authors:Sijie Dai (Author)
Other authors:Manuel Serrat Crespo (Translator)
Info:Barcelona : Salamandra
Collections:Your library

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


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English (154)  Spanish (6)  French (4)  Italian (3)  Catalan (3)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  All languages (175)
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
This to a small extent reminded me of the last Chinese book I read because of the very regular subject/verb sentence structure although there was a little more variation in this book. Being in translation, though, I can’t be sure of the author’s original style.

I had expected a novel with more bite, set as it is in the early seventies with the two main character sent into the mountains for re-education as part of Mao’s purge. Instead we find, for the most part, their living conditions quite tolerable with the narrator’s friend carrying on a love affair with the most beautiful girl for miles around.

It reads, in fact, more like a fairy-tale to me, with sorceresses and lots of premonitory dreams as well as a lack of depth in the characterisation. The narrator and the little seamstress aren’t even given names. There’s little development in any of the protagonists, including the narrator himself and although a few simple conclusions could be drawn from the story, it seems to me that the slightness of this novel precludes any depth of reflection.

Clearly a fictitious autobiography, it makes me wonder why Dai Sijie decided to write in this way. If it’s fictitious, why not develop the story more? Otherwise why not write about his own experiences with some reflection on what happened? ( )
  evening | Jul 6, 2015 |
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is about the effects books can have. Set in rural china during the time of Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution, a forbidden suitcase of western books translated into chinese illustrates the surprise consequences exposure to these books can have.

The two protagonists come from educated, professional families sent to peasant villages to be reeducated as good peasant workers. In order to impress the Little Seamstress, and to make her more sophisticated, the two obtain a copy of Balzac's Ursule Mirouët and tell her the story. But the consequences of their actions are not as they expected. The Little Seamstress does become more sophisticated, but to the chagrin of her two friends, the only lesson she has learned from Balzac is that a woman's beauty is treasure beyond price."

What these two educated boys saw as the opening of a world different than the one in which they lived, and reminded them of the cities they had come from where the importance of education and books was taken for granted, served to show the Little Seamstress that she could be valued for her grace and beauty in the cities.

Which means books can be a two-edged sword y'all.

I found Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress to be charming, while expressing the unintended consequences of stories and story-telling. ( )
1 vote AuntieClio | May 11, 2015 |
The author does a remarkable job of painting a very vivid picture with very minimal language. The story is simple, as is the language. But the writing is both elegant and mezmerizing. ( )
  grandpahobo | Mar 22, 2015 |
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (A short, slim novel) set in 1971 (during China’s infamous Cultural Revolution) over the course of a couple of years, follows the story of the unnamed 17 year old narrator and his best friend Luo, a year older, sent into the Chinese countryside to be "re-educated" by the peasants, because what and who their parents are. There the two friends meet the daughter of the local tailor and discover a hidden stash of Western classics (most the French authors Balzac, Flaubert, Dumas) in Chinese translation. As they flirt with the seamstress and secretly devour these banned works, the two friends find themselves able to survive their harsh grim surroundings, transporting themselves to worlds they never imagined. The book felt like a fairytale at times, a comic adventure at others and in the end heartbreaking. This is a story of survival, emphasizing the power of literature to free the mind and provide hope even in the harshest environment. 4 ½ out of 5 stars. ( )
1 vote marsap | Jan 29, 2015 |
I picked this up at a super cheap used book sale, and I really rather enjoyed it. I've been reading a lot of books from the perspective of contemporary american teenage girls, so it was nice to get a change of worldview. There was a kind of weird manic pixie dream girl thing going on with the little seamstress that kind of turned me off--she didn't even have a name?? But it made a day of travel more pleasant. ( )
  jaelikesbooks | Sep 23, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (98 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dai Sijieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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
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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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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385722206, Paperback)

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is an enchanting tale that captures the magic of reading and the wonder of romantic awakening. An immediate international bestseller, it 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:31 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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.… (more)

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