- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
The power of books -- to excite, to enlighten, to inspire -- serves as the theme of this engaging gem by Chinese-born filmmaker Dai Sijie. The tale takes place in China during the harsh days of the Cultural Revolution, when millions of young people were sent to the countryside for "reeducation." That is, they were charged with manual labor and steeped in Communist propaganda. The two teenage boys in Sijie's novel fail to escape this fate, but lonely and frightened as they are in the rural mountain village to which they've been exiled, they find themselves transformed when they uncover a forbidden treasure trove: a suitcase filled with Western literary classics. Hugo, Stendhal, Dumas, Flaubert, Dickens, and especially Balzac become the boys' secret companions, firing their imaginations and giving their lives new meaning. The books become the motivation and the sweet reward for everything they do: They lead them into danger but also help them out of scrapes. And the books also become the vehicle by which one of the boys, Luo, woos a beautiful seamstress who lives on the other side of the mountain. Ultimately, the secret books become the catalyst for Sijie's provocative and unexpected ending.
The author, who was himself "reeducated" in the early 1970s and emigrated to France in 1984, has penned a startling and lucid story that evokes the nightmarish world of Mao's China as seen through the eyes of two utterly charming young boys. An immediate bestseller in France, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is sure to find its way into the hearts of Americans as well. (Fall 2001 Selection)