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About the book
  • Published: 5 April 2002
  • ISBN: 9780099286431
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 176
  • RRP: $19.99

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress


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Here is one of those rare novels, so captivatingly original, so absurdly funny, surprising and moving, that it crosses all boundaries.

In 1971 Mao's campaign against the intellectuals is at its height. Our narrator and his best friend, Luo, distinctly unintellectual but guilty of being the sons of doctors, have been sent to a remote mountain village to be 'reeducated'. The kind of education that takes place among the peasants of Phoenix Mountain involves carting buckets of excrement up and down precipitous, foggy paths, but the two seventeen- year-olds have a violin and their sense of humour to keep them going. Further distraction is provided by the attractive daughter of the local tailor, possessor of a particularly fine pair of feet.
Their true re-education starts, however, when they discover a comrade's hidden stash of classics of great nineteenth-century Western literature - Balzac, Dickens, Dumas, Tolstoy and others, in Chinese translation. They need all their ingenuity to get their hands on the forbidden books, but when they do their lives are turned upside down. And not only their lives: after listening to their dangerously seductive retellings of Balzac, the Little Seamstress will never be the same again.
Without betraying the truth of what happened, Dai Sijie transforms the bleak events of China's Cultural Revolution into an enchanting and unexpected story about the resilience of the human spirit and the magical power of great storytelling.

  • Pub date: 5 April 2002
  • ISBN: 9780099286431
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 176
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Dai Sijie

Born in China in 1954, Dai Sijie is a filmmaker who was himself 're-educated' between 1971 and 1974, and left China in 1984 for France, where he has lived and worked ever since. His first novel, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, was an overnight sensation when it appeared in France in 2000. It became an immediate bestseller and won five prizes. It is now published in over thirty-five countries. His film of the book was chosen to open the Cannes Film Festival in 2002. His second novel, Mr Muo's Travelling Couch, became a bestseller in its first French edition.

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Praise for Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

“Wholly delightful, intelligent, funny and unexpected.A remarkable book, offering sheer delight”

Scotsman

“A completely beguiling novel. always giving the reader a sense of being there.Very engaging”

Independent

“Highly original and sweetly charming”

The Times

“A simple story, seductively told.it touches and lifts up the beaut y of human experience far beyond the mountains of Western China in which the story is set”

Times Literary Supplement


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