Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

Two Chinese teens sent to be "re-educated" during the communist Cultural Revolution gain a whole different kind of enlightenment through a suitcase of elicit Western literature.

Through film and novels, the boys learn storytelling and gain experiences they can't otherwise obtain in their limited, censored lives. They, in turn, offer this same cultural broadening to a new friend, the tailor's daughter,

I didn't expect this book to be funny and sweet, but that's the first thing that comes to mind when trying to summarize this book. Of course, it's also expectedly horrifying at the work and conditions in which the villagers live ... but the real story is in the friendship, hijinx, and loves.

I loved this novella - it's another book about loving books - and the story is told briskly in a series of short chapters and vignettes about their lives. It's rich with details: you can perfectly visualize the coats they're wearing, and the fine suitcase leather is almost real to the touch.

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