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  • Published: 1 March 2010
  • ISBN: 9780099521327
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $22.99

Once on a Moonless Night

Comprising ancient texts and fables, stories within stories, and a young man's desperate search for his father's legacy, this beguiling tale, by the bestselling author of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, has the enigmatic mystery of Eco's The Name of the Rose, with the tenderness of the film, Lost in Translation.

A young woman hears the tale of a sacred text, written in an ancient language and inscribed on silk cloth many centuries ago. Puyi, the last emperor and owner of the relic, allegedly tore the silk in pieces with his teeth and threw it from a plane when he was taken by the Japanese to Manchuria. A search for this lost text and its poignant, devastatingly simple message begins...

This is a beguiling tale of fables, stories within stories, a young man's desperate search for his father's legacy and a young woman's search for the man she loved. Covering almost a century of China's history, this haunting novel combines mystery, harsh reality and tenderness with astonishing insight.

  • Published: 1 March 2010
  • ISBN: 9780099521327
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $22.99

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, Balzacand 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 Once on a Moonless Night

Dai Sijie is a wonderful storyteller. There are not many storytellers writing at present in the French language, which makes his speed and intricacy and drama appear more surprising ... so well done, in such a swift and uncompromising way, that the reader and author and characters feel the simple astonishment of having survived ... the end of the tale is beautifully conclusive and satisfactory

A. S. Byatt, Guardian

Evokes the past with all the eerie clarity of a dream, its outlines blurred but every tiny, telling detail extraordinarily alive. Anyone in search of a brief history of China would do well to begin right here

Margaret Hillenbrand, Financial Times

A rich and poetic novel

The Big Issue

It exercises a subtle and persuasive charm... Its evocation of the distant world of devoted Chinese scholarship and dying artistry is lovingly and enchantingly done

Alan Massie, Scotsman

An elegant, polished, scholarly piece

Kate Saunders, The Times

Sijie has produced another cunning literary confection, blending history, romance, a long-lost manuscript and the magic of the Orient... Sijie can still draw readers into his elegant web

Mail on Sunday

This shy, complex novel, which speaks its concerns so quietly, remains a forceful lament, infused with incident and dramatic storytelling. Language solves nothing, neither French, Chinese, Tibetan or Tumchooq. Language cannot the explain lives we lead, or the arbitrariness of our destinies. It can only tell us to trust, as a lost scroll in a lost language eventually does, that the ground is there beneath our feet.

Julian Evans, The Daily Telegraph

Dignified and scholarly.

Claire Anderson Wheeler, The Irish Times

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