Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book Review - Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

 For most of my life, if I started reading a book, I would finish it even if I didn't particularly like it. As I've gotten older, I don't do that any more.

Here is one that I have just finished - a neat little book, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, written by Dai Sijie. It was originally published in 2000 in France with the English translation published in 2001. According to the book's jacket, the book was soon to be made into a film. Don't know if this movie has ever been made or not. 

It takes place in China in the early 1970's after Mao ordered all of the universities there closed and all of the boys and girls who had graduated from high school to be sent to the countryside where they would work and live with poor peasants to be "reeducated".  It is the story of 2 boys who were sent up into the mountains during this time essentially to live and work in poverty.  However, somehow they did seem to have a lot of free time.

They met the daughter of the village tailor (the Little Chinese Seamstress) and one of them fell in love with her.  The boys were able to steal some contraband western novels among which were books by Balzac.  The boy who was in love with the seamstress would read these books to her in their courtship - thus the name of the book.

This was a sweet book with a somewhat surprising end.  But the thing that impressed me most was the very clear, descriptive, beautiful writing of this author. It is a fairly short story and very entertaining.

Here is the first chapter in this book.

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