Thursday, March 14, 2013

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is an enchanting tale that captures the magic of reading and the wonder of romantic awakening. An immediate international bestseller, it tells the story of two hapless city boys exiled to a remote mountain village for re-education during China’s infamous Cultural Revolution. There the two friends meet the daughter of the local tailor and discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation. As they flirt with the seamstress and secretly devour these banned works, the two friends find transit from their grim surroundings to worlds they never imagined.

My take: 2 looks
Well, maybe 2.5 looks. After all, I didn't dislike it so much as I just didn't like it. It is said to be a sort of autobiographical book, but I didn't get the point. If the point was friendship, it was lacking. If the point was the power of literature, it was stunted. If the point was social and cultural repression, it was boring.

This novel was made into a movie, which I can't understand, either. I don't see enough material in the184 pages to make a movie.

Getting to the title, which is what caused me to purchase the book, Balzac is Honoré de Balzac, a French novelist and playwright. With no real legacy in the United States, his most famous claim to fame to me is his influence on Charles Dickens. With that being said, the English reader is much more familiar with this author, as BBC miniseries' would suggest.

The little Chinese seamstress played a supporting roll, but no more than Four-Eyes or the headman. Again, her significance in the novel is not immediately evident to me. Unless she represents the effect of literature on a person. However, I would argue that her unplanned pregnancy may have contributed to her life change in a more substantial way than Luo's verbal renditions of the written contraband.

I cannot recommend this one.

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