Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

balzac$13.95, 184 pages, Historical Fiction

Two teen boys fall for the same young woman while working in a small Chinese village.

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NY Times

Powell’s Books

Could you fathom a world in which reading books or learning something new is not only discouraged but punishable, as well?  Welcome to the period of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s to early 1970s.  During this time, two young city boys were sent to work in a small village.  Luo and Ma are those young men and they were forced to endure hard labor for a period of three years.  All the while, the two boys independently fall in love with a local girl, the Little Seamstress.  Part romance, part adventure and part mystery, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is a semi-autobiographical book written by Dai Sijie.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and only wished it were longer.   The characters are richly developed and the story is an intriguing tale.  I found myself rooting for the young boys in their pursuit of reading.  The book is guaranteed to make you think differently about how fortunate we are with the availability of reading materials at local libraries or bookstores

Appeal Factors: Character-Driven, Dramatic, Romance, Cultural

According to Novelist, read-alikes for this book include: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (accessed May 4, 2013).

Library Journal Best Books of the Year 2001

Reading Group Guide and Discussion Questions

This book was recommended by a former supervisor.  The shoes on the cover always caught my attention as I distributed the book to patrons and I was curious as to the semi-autobiographical story.

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