Annotations for Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress


Baker & Taylor
At the height of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, two young boys are sent to the country for "reeducation" at a remote mountain village, where their lives take an unexpected turn when they meet the beautiful daughter of a local tailor and stumble upon a forbidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translations. A first novel. 25,000 first printing.

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Baker & Taylor
During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, two boys are sent to the country for reeducation, where their lives take an unexpected turn when they meet the beautiful daughter of a local tailor and stumble upon a forbidden stash of Western literature.

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Blackwell North Amer
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 're-educated'. The kind of education that takes place among the peasants of Phoenix Mountain involves carting buckets of excrement up and down preciptous, 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.

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Random House, Inc.
An enchanting literary debut--already an international best-seller.

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.

From within the hopelessness and terror of one of the darkest passages in human history, Dai Sijie has fashioned a beguiling and unexpected story about the resilience of the human spirit, the wonder of romantic awakening and the magical power of storytelling.

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Random House, Inc.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER "An unexpected miracle--a delicate, and often hilarious tale." --LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK REVIEW The introduction, discussion questions, suggested reading list, and author biography that follow are designed to enhance your group's reading of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress , Dai Sijie's poignant tale of love, literature, and reeducation in the harsh world of Chairman Mao's China.

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