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"Neither is a dictionary a bad book to read. There is no cant in it, no excess of explanation, and it is full of suggestions, the raw material of possible poems and histories."


— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Perfect Book for a Long Flight

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Title: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
By: Dai Sijie

This is a lovely funny book which can easily transport you from a cramped seat in economy to an elegantly constructed world in China. Set in the Chinese countryside during the Cultural Revolution, Sijie tells us the story of two city boys sent to be re-educated by poor peasants in the mountains of rural China. Their city perspective meets the rural view of the village headman, the local tailor, and the tailor's daughter.

Along the way we have the opportunity to contemplate the intellectual life vs. the laborer's life, outsider vs. insider, and even the influence of Western thought on Chinese values. The story is at the same time moving and funny, gently told by a man who, himself, was re-educated in the seventies according to Mao's edict.

The last sweet turn of events will leave you smiling as you close the cover on this wise little tale and prepare for landing.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction

Posted by Ruby Boggs on April 6, 2009 at 5:32 p.m.
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