Annotations for Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress : A Novel

An enchanting literary debut--already an international best-seller. At the height of Mao's infamous Cultural Revolution, two boys are among hundreds of thousands exiled to the countryside for "re-education." The narrator and his best friend, Luo, guilty of being the sons of doctors, find themselves in a remote village where, among the peasants of Phoenix mountain, they are made to cart buckets of excrement up and down precipitous winding paths. Their meager distractions include a violin--as well as, before long, the beautiful daughter of the local tailor.But it is when the two discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation that their re-education takes its most surprising turn. While ingeniously concealing their forbidden treasure, the boys find transit to worlds they had thought lost forever. And after listening to their dangerously seductive retellings of Balzac, even the Little Seamstress will be forever transformed. From within the hopelessness and terror of one of the darkest passages in human history, Dai Sijie has fashioned a beguiling and unexpected story about the resilience of the human spirit, the wonder of romantic awakening and the magical power of storytelling.From the Hardcover edition.

Random House, Inc.
During Mao Tse-Tung's "Cultural Revolution," applauded at the time by all correct thinking people in the West, intellectuals, doctors, lawyers and their children were sent to remote and primitive areas of China to be "re-educated." This meant performing menial tasks such as breaking rocks and carrying buckets of dung. The narrator of this marvelous book and his friend Luo are both children of doctors who are undergoing their "re-education." Their sole distraction is the beautiful daughter of the local tailor. But then their "re-education" takes a dramatic turn for the better. They discover a hidden cache of Western literature in Chinese translation, and they are transported to worlds they thought they would never see again.