“Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress” – Dai Sijie

Original language: French


First edition: 2000

Date read: October 2013

Plot summary (from the back cover): Two Chinese teenagers are sent to a remote village in the mountains close to the Tibet border to be “reeducated”, as per the policy set up by Mao Zedong in the late sixties; There they live in harsh conditions -hygienical and so on.
Everything changes when they find a suitcase with “forbidden” occidental books from authors such as Balzac and Dumas.
Both young men are captivated by the stories in those books and try to reeducate the daughter of a tailor from a village nearby -the little seamstress.

Opinion/Comments: This is a funny, entertaining and compelling story. Especially, when you learn it’s semi-autobiographical.
Both guys are a pair of rascals but with hearts of gold; They endure very bad life conditions but at the same time try to do their best to survive and to live life to the fullest.

Personal rating: 10/10



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