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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
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****Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

by Dai Sijie

translated from the French by Ina Rilke

Reviewed February 1, 2003.
Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2001.  197 pages.

This book isn’t like any other novel that I’ve read in a long time.  It tells the story of two Chinese youths sent out into the country for re-education in the 1970s during the Cultural Revolution.  The young man gets to keep his violin after he tells the village headman that the tune he is playing is “Mozart Is Thinking of Chairman Mao.”  (Mozart’s works were banned long before.)

The boys toil in the village, but soon meet a beautiful girl, the daughter of a tailor.  They also come across a forbidden book, a book by Balzac.  The book opens up new worlds to them, and also to the little Chinese seamstress.  This book captivates the reader quickly and draws you into the story.

The author of this book himself went through re-education in China and has been living in France since 1984.  This is his first novel, and he has created a memorable, fascinating story.

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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