Here is one of those rare novels, so captivatingly original, so absurdly funny, surprising and moving, that it crosses all boundaries. In 1971 Mao's campaign against the intellectuals is at its height. Our narrator and his best friend, Luo, distinctly unintellectual but guilty of being the sons of doctors, have been sent to a remote mountain village to be 'reeducated'. The kind of education that takes place among the peasants of Phoenix Mountain involves carting buckets of excrement up and down precipitous, foggy paths, but the two seventeen-year-olds have a violin and their sense of humour to keep them going. Further distraction is provided by the attractive daughter of the local tailor, possessor of a particularly fine pair of feet. Their true re-education starts, however, when they discover a comrade's hidden stash of classics of great nineteenth-century Western literature - Balzac, Dickens, Dumas, Tolstoy and others, in Chinese translation. They need all their ingenuity to get their hands on the forbidden books, but when they do their lives are turned upside down. And not only their lives: after listening to their dangerously seductive retellings of Balzac, the Little Seamstress will never be the same again. Without betraying the truth of what happened, Dai Sijie transforms the bleak events of China's Cultural Revolution into an enchanting and unexpected story about the resilience of the human spirit and the magical power of great storytelling.
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"A completely beguiling novel. always giving the reader a sense of being there. Very engaging" ( Independent)
"Wholly delightful, intelligent, funny and unexpected. A remarkable book, offering sheer delight" ( Scotsman)
"A simple story, seductively told, it touches and lifts up the beauty of human experience far beyond the mountains of Western China in which the story is set" ( Times Literary Supplement)
"Highly original and sweetly charming" ( The Times)
"If you read only one novel, choose this one: it's worth a hundred" ( Le Figaro)
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Book Description Vintage, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0099452243