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Balzac y la joven costurera china

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  49,641 ratings  ·  4,072 reviews
Dos adolescentes chinos son enviados a una aldea perdida en las montañas del Fénix del Cielo, cerca de la frontera con el Tíbet, para cumplir con el proceso de «reeducación» implantado por Mao Zedong a finales de los años sesenta. Soportando unas condiciones de vida infrahumanas, con unas perspectivas casi nulas de regresar algún día a su ciudad natal, todo cambia con la a ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 28th 2001 by Salamandra (first published January 1st 2000)
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heidi "think it is appropriate" for whom? high schooler on up. nothing inappropriate, just has a literary sophistication that is above a middle schooler's…more"think it is appropriate" for whom? high schooler on up. nothing inappropriate, just has a literary sophistication that is above a middle schooler's level, i think.(less)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  49,641 ratings  ·  4,072 reviews


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Jim Fonseca
Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two urban Chinese boys, 17 and 18 when the story starts, are sent to a farming village to do rural work as part of their “re-education” under Mao’s cultural revolution. Their terms are indefinite because their parents, doctors and dentists, were considered bourgeois enemies of the people.

The author was himself “re-educated” in China between 1971 and 1974 and has lived in France since 1984. (The book is translated from the French.) All the universities were closed and all boys and girls who had
...more
Will Byrnes
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
J.I.
A charming book, written with astute quickness, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is both erudite and approachable. It is full of details that absolutely make the scenes pop with vividness, but it does not dawdle over what is not necessary. It is a story with a point.

Which is where this book falls apart. Despite its captivation of the reader, its quick pace, its interesting plot, this short novel begins to come apart when perspectives are suddenly shifted (why?) and then again at the end
...more
Emilie
Mar 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
On its surface, this book has all the ingredients for a really interesting read: a fascinating historical period, potentially interesting characters, and the frequently quite compelling topic of the use or function of literature within literature. Unfortunately, I felt like Sijie failed to live up to the greatness of his own project.

The Cultural Revolution is supposedly the force that propels this story forward. It is, after all, the reason for which the main character and his best friend Luo a
...more
Vanessa
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sweet charming story with a fable quality. The story revolves around a part of history that I feel somewhat ignorant about, the story takes place during the Chinese cultural revolution a time in history where communism was a means to suppress and take away individuality. Life is controlled under the regime of Mao Zedong chairman of the Chinese communist party and restrictions take place, where revolutionary literature is forbidden and higher learning is discouraged, a time when boys where taken ...more
TK421
Jan 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Imagine for a moment that all the books you own are taken from you, pulped or set ablaze, labeled as libelous, unworthy to what your new home now thinks and practices. What would you do? How would this make you feel? Then, as if the act of destruction upon your books was not enough, you, too, are taken to a place where you can be re-educated. All the mysteries or romances or science fiction or literary fiction that you one vigorously pumped into your brain was now going to be methodically replac ...more
Petra-XoPlanet
Jun 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, fiction
This is a gentle, magical book, quite unlike any other I have ever read. The author really gets into the minds of the two boys and the seamstress and the tiny, colourful life they create together despite the poverty of mountain village and the oppression of the Cultural Revolution. The ending is just perfect too.
Ahmad Sharabiani
Balzac Et La Petite Tailleuse Chinoise = Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Dai Sijie
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is a semi-autobiographical novel written by Dai Sijie, and published in 2000 in French and in English in 2001.
The novel, written by Dai Sijie, is about two teenage boys during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Luo, described as having "a genius for storytelling", and the unnamed narrator, "a fine musician". They are assigned to re-education through labor
...more
Shelley
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This story is cute, kind of odd, and without much plot or character development. Dai Sijie's first novel tells the story about two teenage boys sent to the mountains in China for "re-education" under the Maoist regime. Sijie himself was re-educated from 1971 to 1974, which is when this novel takes place. While Sijie builds tension very well he never really delivers. Towards the end the perspective changes for what feels like absolutely no reason and I found myself saying, "what?!" in my head and ...more
Lars Jerlach
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an enchanting tale about the mysteries of love and the eternal wonders of literature. Two teenage boys get exiled for re-education to a remote mountainous village during China's infamous cultural revolution. There they get to know the young daughter of a local tailor and stumble across a suitcase filled with banned western literature. While they find solace in the forbidden words of western literature they open a new world of opportunity to the seamstress and find an emotive escape from ...more
Jeanette
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an outstanding exercise in more than just the pals' re-education and awakening to adulthood. It deserves 5 stars in the skill to expose the different ironic dichotomies. And not only in this Chinese period. A stilted way to say that it makes both political and personal counter-revolutions. This is truly a think piece.

The more you know about the Red Guard, Cultural Revolution and subsequent civil liberties and personal choices of rural peasant or relocated for purpose Chinese-
...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
One of the reasons why I join bookclubs is to encourage myself to read books I wouldn't normally read, to get me out of my comfort zone. And one of the hopes of any bookclub I think, for me at least, is to find a gem, a book that you had never wanted to read but, having read through coercion, have been spellbound by. This is that book. Descriptions of it that I'd read when it was first released had turned me off - it sounded boring - but with such low expectations I was so into this story that I ...more
Liz Janet
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I was carried away, swept along by the mighty stream of words pouring from the hundreds of pages. To me it was the ultimate book: once you had read it, neither your own life nor the world you lived in would ever look the same.”

I heard about this book via a classmate that said it was his favourite book. Blindly I said I would give it a shot, and when I saw it at a thrift store for very cheap I bought it, two days later I decided to read it and then died. I am so angry and glad at this book, I
...more
Heather
Feb 12, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this would be great (well, the cover was beautiful and it did have Balzac in it) but I was really unimpressed by it. It was a story and nothing more. I can't figure out why it's selling like hot cakes. Oh well.
Carol
May 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
Beautifully written story about youth during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Kavita
This novel is short, but it manages to cram in a lot of stuff about the daily life during the Cultural Revolution. Two bourgeois boys, Luo and the unnamed narrator, are sent to the countryside for their re-education. There, they toil in the fields and in the mines, and hope against hope that they would be the one of the three in a thousand to be sent back to the city despite their parents being 'enemies of the people'.

The story is not a linear one, and the narrative reads like excerp
...more
Nari
Apr 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2008
I chose this excerpt from the book because it seems to sum up the changes seen in the characters:

“Picture if you will, a boy of nineteen still slumbering in the limbo of adolescence, having heard nothing but revolutionary blather about patriotism, Communism, and ideology and propaganda all his life, falling headlong into a story of awakening desire, passion, impulsive action, love, of all the subjects that had, until then, been hidden from me”

There is a series of revoluti
...more
Richard Derus
Rating: 3.5* of five

This novel is a deep peer into the dark and turgid pool that the Cultural Revolution made of China for far, far too long.

Of course, I've moved my review to my blog so the Reavers can't get at it.
Gary
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Based on a true story, this beautifully written little book is a testament to the struggle for intellectual freedom.
Written in a very descriptive , and living way, it tells of the story of two 17 year old boys in Mao's China who are among the millions of Chinese youth, forced to undergo 'Re-education' , a type of deathlike existance in China's re-education camps , carrying excrement up and down a mountain.

Their life is given meaning by their meeting up with a pretty , young sea
...more
Paul
Feb 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-novels
A charming, brief novel set in China during the cultural revolution. Two teenage boys are sent to a peasant village for re-education because of what their parents do. They have the sort of adventures teenage boys have; with an edge because of their situation. They also discover western literature through another boy being re-educated. Balzac, Dumas, Flaubert, Gogol; all nineteenth century authors. They also discover teenage love and obsession. There is a feeling of closeness to the earth and the ...more
Em*bedded-in-books*
This story is set in the communist China of early seventies where children of highly educated people were forcibly made to stay in peasant lands and be re educated (I. e. forget their modern education and go the way of ignorant peasants. The narrator and Lou are such teenage boys who bear the unfortunate cross of having doctor parents who are considered traitors to the country. In a country, high in the mountains, where other people seldom tread, they try to reconcile with their fate. Then they ...more
Isabel Alcuaz
Jun 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is a book about two boys who are exiled to the country during China’s Cultural Revolution in order to be ‘re-educated’. There they spend their days doing menial but often dangerous work. They soon make the acquaintance of the tailor’s daughter living in the next village. When they find a secret stash of forbidden European texts translated in the Chinese language, it is with her they share them, in the hopes of making something else out of the mountain gir ...more
Nancy Oakes
Set during the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong, the book is largely a story of the power of storytelling. T wo teenage boys have been sent to live in the country (their parents are class enemies) on a mountain known as Phoenix in the Sky. Told mostly from the point of view of one of the boys (although this changes toward the end), it is the story of how in the midst of carrying buckets filled with excrement on slippery trails, they find a stash of books owned by another bo ...more
Wiebke (1book1review)
This was such a beautiful book. The writing is amazing, the story educated me about the re-education that took place in China after the Cultural Revolution, which I think is amazing in a novel that is all about education.

Reading and the things we learn from books and how important books are for our intellect and life in general is at the center of this novel. We see how the two main characters are longing for books and how they want to share the stories they read and also see on the
...more
Skylar Burris
2.5 stars, really. I'm being generous. This was an easy (though hardly light) read. It was generally interesting, but I never grew to care deeply about the characters. The horror of the Cultural Revolution was not made especially real to me. The Little Seamstress herself was utterly underdeveloped. The dialogue was unrealistic: no one speaks in such a manner. There is an abrupt but brief shift in narration toward the end of the book, for no apparent reason; the fact that a particular event is to ...more
Moonkiszt
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Spontaneous read of the week! Needed a little spritzer, and this was just the thing. . .

In a once-upon-a-time, in a-land-far-far-away , with two unnamed characters, one that is the narrator – ingredients for a settling in to a tale about friends, coming of age, and the hard facts of life. This was a thoughtful tale, saying while life’s not “fair” and consequences don’t always deliver a “happily ever after”, or an “off into the golden sunset,”
...more
Cheryl
This was an enchanting book that kept me company over the weekend. Usually, I'm reminded of fiction when I read creative nonfiction, because of the fictive elements used to develop plot, so imagine my surprise when this fiction had the retrospective past narrative of creative nonfiction in some places. Like this line for instance: "This flood of emotion surprised me greatly at the time, and even today I remember it almost more clearly than the events that resulted from my encounter with the doct ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Set in 1971 during China's Cultural Revolution, this is the story of two teenage boys sent to be "re-educated" in a remote mountain village. I expected it to be a rather grim tale, but it wasn't. These city boys do suffer under the heavy workloads of the peasants, but they also find time to visit friends in other villages, one of whom is a teenage peasant girl known as the Little Seamstress, and another of whom is a city boy like themselves called Four-Eyes. When they discover that Four-Eyes has ...more
Jimmy
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
What a wonderful story. It is my second time reading it, and it just got even better. It reminded me of a recent novel I read: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Both books deal with the utter horrors of evil governments: the dictatorship of Trujillo in the Diaz novel and the excesses of Maoism in the Sijie novel. Sijie's story does it in a more subtle way. For example, when Luo goes to a "dentist," the wrong tooth is pulled out. That's because educated professionals were killed an ...more
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
I finally read this odd little novel from 2002 about two teen boys sent to a mountain village for 'reeducation through labor' during China's Cultural Revolution. I appreciated both the comic treatment of a dark topic—the opening scene was a tour de force—and what I am coming to recognize as modern Chinese fiction's twisty warp and woof. But I totally hated the weird, jarring ending: a disjunctive twist too far.
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Dai Sijie was born in China in 1954. He grew up working in his fathers tailor shop. He himself became a skilled tailor. The Maoist government sent him to a reeducation camp in rural Sichuan from 1971 to 1974, during the Cultural Revolution. After his return, he was able to complete high school and university, where he studied art history.

In 1984, he left China for France on a scholarsh
...more
“I was carried away, swept along by the mighty stream of words pouring from the hundreds of pages. To me it was the ultimate book: once you had read it, neither your own life nor the world you lived in would ever look the same.” 73 likes
“It would evidently take more than a political regime, more than dire poverty to stop a woman from wanting to be well-dressed: it was a desire as old as the world, as old as the desire for children.” 22 likes
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