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Miss Chopsticks

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  903 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
Xinran takes her readers to the heart of modern Chinese society in this delightful and absorbing tale of three peasant girls getting to grips with life in the big city.

The Li sisters don’t have much education, but one thing has been drummed into them: their mother is a failure because she hasn’t managed to produce a son, and they themselves only merit a number as a name. W
Paperback, 257 pages
Published August 7th 2007 by Chatto & Windus
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Community Reviews

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Jun 27, 2016 Gary rated it it was amazing
A beautiful engaging book both humorous and with a penetrating understanding.
Explores the lives of three Chinese girls from a rural village , from a family that has only produced girls, in a culture where this is seen as a great misfortune.
To have girls according to this mentality is a misfortune as girls are regarded as 'chopsticks' disposable, and a son as a 'roofbeam', - holding up the family and household.
These three girls (given only numbers) and not names make their way to the city of Nanj
Angela Oliver
Dec 11, 2012 Angela Oliver rated it really liked it
Yes, I have tagged this with "non fiction" even though it is not. That is because although the characters and events are not real, the people and places they were based on are. Xinran was a journalist who now writes beautiful stories about women in China. Their stories are sometimes heart-breaking, sometimes funny and always touching. This novel is about as close to real as you can get.

This is the story of three sisters, named Three, Five and Six, who have lived all their life in the countryside
Sep 17, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
This book is about three sisters, known as Three, Five and Six. Their mother was only able to give birth to girls (although we all know that’s the man’s fault, isn’t it!). In his disappointment, the father didn’t want to bother thinking of names for the girls, so he named them according to the order that they were born in. It’s called Miss Chopsticks because that’s what girls are known as, “Chopsticks” because chopsticks are only to be used and discarded, and easily broken. Men, however, are the ...more
Mar 19, 2012 Nikki rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Miss Chopsticks is a fictionalised account of three Chinese girls who Xinran had met. Their stories are both sad and full of hope: they are poor and disadvantaged, but by good luck, cleverness and hard work, they show their family how much they are worth.

If you're interested in China, and particularly the lives of women in China, I definitely recommend Xinran's work. It's well translated, I think: very clear and easy to read. The translation does create a distance, and it's not like a English no
Melinda Elizabeth
Dec 29, 2015 Melinda Elizabeth rated it liked it
Miss Chopsticks amalgamates the stories that the author, Xinran has come across in her travels to rural china in the 90’s. The title of the book comes from the perception that Chinese women are viewed as ‘chopsticks’ – they are plentiful but not particularly useful unless used in collaboration with others. The men and boys are considered ‘roof beams’ – the strong pillars of society that shelter and protect China.

Post-cultural revolution China is a land of opportunity – and Three, Five and Six (
Oct 04, 2012 Max rated it it was amazing
This wonderful novel details three sisters’ journey of exploration as they leave their little village and all-female siblings behind to work in the city and try to make more of themselves than being the ‘chopsticks’ that they’ve been branded. The three sisters’ stories unfold as their individual characters come to light – Five is seen as stupid and worthless, but a kindly character called Engineer Wu takes her under his wing and explains how the ignorance of male-run villages breed the idea that ...more
Jul 14, 2009 Yvonne rated it really liked it
A book about Chinese women that does not make you want to run out and adopt a Chinese orphan girl! Does that sound shallow? After reading this I felt that every other book I have read set in this culture or in American immigrant families has painted a bleak world in which the main character struggles against all, often with the support of one or two faithful friends, who are fated to die or be separated from her. Perhaps I am over reacting?

In any case, Xinran paints a picture of modern China whi
The title of the book says it all "Miss Chopsticks". This is the derogatory term used in this tiny country-side village to describe women- their frailty, their usefulness for a single meal, after which they are tossed away. Men, on the other hard, are referred to as "roofbeams", that is it is their strength that holds up the entire household.

Great book that highlights the struggles of three Chinese sisters who leave their tiny village to move to the city of Nanjing to make a living. Their experi
Jan 22, 2009 Chrissie rated it it was ok
Shelves: china, hf
Will this be as good as Sky Burial? I hope so!

No, in my opinion it wasn't.Reading this was kind of a culture shock. I have a hard time believing the complete naivety of the three main characters. Maybe what disturbed me most was what the author has them say. I can question my inability to "accept" that these women did have such naive thoughts. On the other hand such naivety was not evident in the characters of Skye Burial. Understanding of what is right and wrong or what moves people is not lea
Alvaro Silva
Feb 05, 2014 Alvaro Silva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book, I felt so humble, it is full of beautiful lessons of life. For many people China looks like another planet and Chinese people like aliens. I can say that we are not so different. I am not giving here a review of this book because in this webpage there exist really good ones. Only as a curiosity, the book in its front cover has three Chinese characters, 菜(cai4)vegetables or food, 水(shui3)water, 茶(cha2)tea. The book tells the story of three sisters, Tree, Five and Six. Three works ...more
Dec 21, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Yvonne Learmonth
Feb 13, 2016 Yvonne Learmonth rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. It is not a book I would of chosen for myself. Loved the history from a girls point of view.
Jun 13, 2014 Soulmuser rated it really liked it
Shelves: china
After having read Xinran Xue's three other books, including The Good Women of China, and the haunting Sky Burial, I didn't have to think twice when I saw her latest offering, Miss Chopsticks, in the bookshop. Xinran writes with a lyrical style - and Miss Chopsticks, a feel-good novel, is engrossing to the end. Translated by Esther Tyldesley, the book traces the journey of three peasant girls, Three, Five and Six - so named because in China, the value of the girl-child is negligible, just numeric ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
Nov 28, 2007 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: librarybooks
This is a definite five star read for me. At less than 300 pages, it is not a long novel. It provides a view of life in China which is as much caught in the past as it is moving towards a different future.

I've reviewd the novel at for thise interested:

I also recommend Xinran's 'Sky Burial'

Both are beautifully written books, in my view.

Jun 25, 2012 Baljit rated it liked it
I would really give this 2.5 stars. Interesting subject matter about rural-urban migration and cultural issues within China, but it was not that gripping a read. I felt like I was waitng for something to happen...but it never did. Having said that, I would explore this writer's previous works.
Jennifer L.
Dec 09, 2014 Jennifer L. rated it really liked it
Xinran's Miss Chopstics is as much an exploration of culture and new discoveries as anything else. Weaving together the stories of three young Chinese women who've ventured into the city to seek work, all three based on real persons she's met in her past, Xinran explores the avenues of choice and identity taken by each young woman.

In whole, this is probably a somewhat optimistic and simplified view into a girl's journey from country to city, self-doubt to self-worth, but the characters are neve
Apr 23, 2012 Esha rated it liked it
The author bends the truth a little and combines three stories as one. An interesting look into China (however a genre that is really well documented by some amazing work). An easy read but hardly life-changing.
Deborah McCabe
Jun 10, 2011 Deborah McCabe rated it really liked it
This was a very fun read. I learned quite a bit about modern-day rural China. The character development was well done. I was intrigued that it was loosely based on real characters.
Dec 07, 2013 Linell rated it it was ok
I don't think the novel is Xinran's element, but the story interested me because it is set in Nanjing where I lived for many years.
Jan 16, 2015 Anthea rated it really liked it
"Miss Chopsticks" is a novel that opened up my eyes to a reality in China I had been unaware of until now. The story itself is fresh and unusual.The painful ignorance of Five and Three was rather shocking to read, but there was most definitely a sense of true hope in the novel brought in by Six.

I will say though that the novel being a translation from Chinese did indeed take something away from what I understand was a far more masterful work. I could tell when the translator came in to make some
Chiara Pasquali
Mar 23, 2015 Chiara Pasquali rated it liked it
A book nice to read, until the end, but a book where nothing happens.
Feb 04, 2014 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really intriguing book. It's short but to the point. The cultural differences within one country are so interesting and many a time you forget you're reading a book set in the early 2000s, it could be set in the 1960s when you look at the way the country folk are viewed by the city folk and vice versa. The political background is really interesting as played out through Uncle Two's arrest. The difference between the sisters is fascinating too. You really do like all of them with a fondness bor ...more
Dec 02, 2014 Galleane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Au final c'est très intéressant -surtout quand on sait que l'histoire se passe dans les années 2000 ça donne beaucoup à réfléchir- et cela procure un plaisir de lecture évident. Si vous lisez ce livre vous découvrirez une histoire envoûtante basée sur des personnages réels (l'auteure l'explique elle-même) qui vous permettront de connaître une autre facette de la Chine. Moi cela m'a donné envie de lire d'autres ouvrages de l'auteure.

Ma chronique complète :
Sep 25, 2013 Edward rated it really liked it
I came to read this book in a roundabout fashion. A book with the French title of BAGUETTE CHINOISE was recommended by a member of a book group I belong to. We wanted to read it in English but didn’t know the English title, and decided that it must be GOOD WOMEN OF CHINA. But when we began to discuss the book, the selector said that didn’t sound even remotely like the book she had read.

We finally determined that BAGUETTE CHINOISE had been translated into English as MISS CHOPSTICKS, and that was
Xinran writes wonderful stories about the often very difficult lives of the women of China. In this book she tells the fictionalized story of three women from the countryside who go to work in the city of Nanjing. In this story they're sisters named Three, Five and Six. The father has been shamed because his wife only bore him six daughters, none worthy of receiving an actual name. They are "chopsticks," something to be used then thrown away. Xinran draws a stark picture of life in the rural are ...more
Dec 20, 2010 Libby rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 11, 2013 Dorothyd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-stories, adult
L'histoire de trois sœurs chinoises venues en ville pour échapper à la campagne. Trois, Cinq et Six arrive à Nankin pour trouver du travail, elles qui n'ont aucune valeur aux yeux de leur père et du village d'où elles viennent (ce sont des baguettes, des filles et non des poutres, des garçons), vont essayer de faire de leur mieux pour s'en sortir.

J'ai beaucoup apprécié ce roman, semi-biographique, puisque Xinran s'inspire de la vraie histoire de 3 jeunes filles pour l'écrire, cela se lit facilem
Apr 10, 2009 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Good read! I'd previously read another of Xinran's books titled: "Sky Burial" a true account of a woman's struggle to find her lost husband in Tibet and it ended up in my permanent collection! Although this novel "Miss Chopsticks" is fictional, the situations in the book are real, but for anonymity Xinran has changed names, and altered the facts, but at the same time presents a story of young women born and raised in the countryside and uneducated, who travel to the city of Nanjing looking for w ...more
Mar 13, 2013 Hayley rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
Some of the sayings must be lost in translation but some of them were really great and I wish I had written some down!

The culture side of this book was amazing, I have never been to China, let alone any eastern country, and this was very intriguing!

I liked when Six was thinking to herself that the Chinese culture is the most wise as they never took words from other languages but drew a new character when they needed to create a word. Six feels English is lazy how our words derive from other lan
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
The first chapter of Miss Chopsticks is so funny and heartwarming that I fully expected to fall in love with this book. While that didn’t quite happen, it was certainly an engaging and enlightening read.

The blurb is written as if this were a book about three sisters struggling against patriarchy, perhaps because that’s what western readers expect from books about Chinese women, but while the book touches on gender issues, that’s not its focus. Rather, this is a book about three sisters from the
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Xue Xinran, who usually writes as simply "Xinran", was a radio broadcaster in China before moving to Great Britain and beginning to publish books. She currently writes as a columnist.
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“The more you read, the more you want to know, and so the more questions you have.” 18 likes
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