Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Sijie, Dai

  11 Reviews

Two Chinese youths are banished to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution for re-education by the peasants. To combat boredom, bad food and unsavoury work, they tell stories. The discovery of a hidden cache of novels written by great 19th-century writers, which they share with the daughter of a tailor, transforms their lives. Sparely written with humorous moments. Translated from French.

Comments from Groups

All arrived thinking 'Yes, a lovely little book' but with everyone's input, we realised it is packed with emotions, events, people's vagaries and so, so much more. Gisborne 005

Lovely story. Everyone enjoyed the way it was written. Winton 002

A different slant on the Revolution. Quite humorous in places. Whakatane 011

A 'light' enjoyable read for most. Palmerston Nth 004

An interesting read and an insight into the time of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Would recommend it to other book groups. Wellington 153

Nice, light read but we mostly felt let down by plot. Oamaru 005

A very popular book. Different opinions were expressed about the main theme of the story. Palmerston Nth 002



NEWP 018
One of our members "loved" this book; one really disliked it. Most found it "readable", but struggled to form any emotional involvement with the main characters. Most found parts of the story hard to believe eg. the freedom of movement of the main characters; that uneducated peasants would be immediately enthralled with an author of the calibre of Balzac. We wondered if the substance of the book suffered from poor translation from Chinese
CHCH 241
Didn't really enjoy - parts of it were ok.
Enjoyed by all - quite delightful. However, not a great deal of detail about the Cultural Revolution.
Discussion was quite lively despite some disappointment that it wasn't satisfying enough. A quick read.
Delightful read, we all agreed. Left us with some questions about the situation in China with the Cultural Revolution; a totally foreign concept from our point of view.
ALEX 004
Delightful story - all enjoyed it.
CHCH 099
We had a very enjoyable discussion with everyone finding this book entertaining and easy, despite some of its subject matter. There was a feeling that the book was rather light, though that may have been partly because the readability meant we read it too quickly to get the depths...
TAUR 023
This was not our favourite book - but in the main we found it a pleasant enough read. The discussion was lively - and those few who had been to China added to the discussion.
Nice, easy to read book. We felt it didn't go into enough detail re the Chinese revolution.
CHCH 010
This book was enjoyed by all in our group. The story follows the narrator and his friend in their re-education in the Chinese countryside in the 1970s, doing a variety of manual work. Their discovery of banned books and their content, and their friendship with the tailor's daughter leads the reader on a very entertaining journey.
AUCK 418
We found this generally easy reading - with a note of whimsy. It was interesting to think of the impact of the cultural revolution and its enduring effects now.