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Miss Chopsticks

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3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  738 ratings  ·  90 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
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Paperback, 257 pages
Published August 7th 2007 by Chatto & Windus
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Community Reviews

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Angela Oliver
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
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Sarah
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
Nikki
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
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Max
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
Yvonne
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
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Tarfah
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
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Alvaro Silva
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
Michael
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bunnychip9
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 Lauren Collins
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
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Deborah McCabe
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.
Anthea
"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
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Julia
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
Galleane
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 : http://bloggalleane.blogspot.fr/2010/...
Edward
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
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Chris
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
Libby
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dorothyd
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
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Louise
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
Hayley
Mar 13, 2013 Hayley rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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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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Jackie Molloy
The novel is about the lives of three girls born in a rural part of China into a family of six girls, the girls are not given names just numbers!. Girls were not valued at all and were referred to as ‘chopsticks’ while boys are known as ‘roof-beams’ – chopsticks are tools to be used up and discarded. The father of the family has no status in the village since he had produced only girls. This changed when his third daughter (named 3) is moved to the city to work, returning during her holiday with ...more
Penny
What a lovely little book this is, called Chopsticks as this is what the chinese people think of little girls, just workaday tools to be discarded when done with and of no real importance. Boys on the other hand are the "Roof beams" that hold up and support the family within. An archaic thought, but as this book was written about 2006, obviously still quite a significant idea in the China of today!! Women that do not produce Boys are said not to be "Laying Eggs"! And the fathers lose face, which ...more
Chrissie
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
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Den
This is part of my journey around the world:China and also X for my author a-to-z challenge.

I couldn't get on with the last book 'Good Women' so was pleasantly surprised when I read this one in a couple of days and didn't actually want to put it down. I really felt for the characters and wanted to find out how they survived in a busy city. I was quite sad to find one went back to her village and married a much older man - she had always seemed so strong.

The title of the book refers to how girls
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Dianne Kaucharik
After reading Xinran's "The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices", I half-expected a series of tragedies would befall the main characters in this novel inspired by stories of 3 real young women from rural China. Although there are some sad aspects, overall the story speaks of compassion and hope. It is incredible to conceive that the story is set in present day China when the conditions and traditions of village life in rural China are described alongside urban living with cellphones, cars, and co ...more
Iris
In a country where only boys are valued, girls are merely seen as chopsticks: they easily break and you only use them once. Men, however, are the strong rafters that hold up the roof of a house. The Li daughters only merit a number as a name, and their poor peasant family has a low social status as their mother has produced six girls and not a single boy. Three is determined to prove she is worth something, and with the help of her uncle she flees to the city to find work. Two years later she co ...more
Shonna Froebel
I took a snow day yesterday and was able to finish a couple of books. This novel is a lovely novel by a Chinese journalist who now lives in London and writes for the Guardian. Xinran was inspired to write this story after hearing a man in a rural area of China referring to daughters as chopsticks and sons as roofbeams. With the current trend of young peasant women moving to cities to get jobs there, she decided to show that "chopsticks" are not as detrimental to family life as some fathers think ...more
James
In this novel, Xinran portrays the story of three sisters from rural China who go to work in Nanjing at the turn of the twenty-first century. Xinran portrays the sisters adapting to their new urban lives with humour, hope, and realism while simultaneously showing the great changes China has undergone in the last few decades. This novel tackles the still prevalent gender norms in China: that women are still somehow inferior to men by forcing the sisters' father to gradually challenge his assumpti ...more
Em
Jul 20, 2011 Em rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011, china
"Miss Chopsticks" tells the tale of three sisters who move from their rural home to the city of Nanjing in search of work. Xinran spins a tale with the feel of a fable or fairytale which gives a light touch and adds frequent humour but still conveys alot about the Chinese culture, lifestyle and politics.

The book touches on several themes including the standing of women in China, the perceptions of "city" and "country" people and their differences, the interaction between Chinese and foreign visi
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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.
More about Xinran...
The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love China Witness: Voices from a Silent Generation What the Chinese Don't Eat

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