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Extended Audio Sample Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (23,991 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Dai Sijie Narrator: B. D. Won Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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At the height of Mao’s infamous Cultural Revolution, two boys are among hundreds of thousands exiled to the countryside for “re-education.” The narrator and his best friend, Luo, guilty of being the sons of doctors, find themselves in a remote village where, among the peasants of the Phoenix mountains, they are made to cart buckets of excrement up and down the precipitous winding paths. Their meager distractions include a violin—and, before long, the beautiful daughter of the local tailor.

But it is when the two discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation that their re-education takes its most surprising turn. While ingeniously concealing their forbidden treasure, the boys find transit to worlds they had thought lost forever. And after listening to their dangerously seductive retellings of Balzac, even the Little Seamstress will be forever transformed.

From within the hopelessness and terror of one of the darkest passages in human history, Dai Sijie has fashioned a beguiling and unexpected story about the resilience of the human spirit, the wonder of romantic awakening, and the magical power of storytelling.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Poetic and affecting…The descriptions of life in this strangest of times and places are so riveting that the reader longs for more.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “An unexpected miracle—a delicate, and often hilarious, tale.”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • “A funny, touching, sly and altogether delightful novel.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “[A] thrilling and…truly great work…[A] richly complex fable.”

    San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

  • “A wonderful novel…formed by detailed layering and exquisite craftsmanship, like a beautifully tailored garment.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Poignant, humorous, and romantic.”

    New York Times

  • “Seduces readers into its world…[A] very wise little story of love and illusion.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “Gives the rest of the world a glimpse into that dark place where the human spirit continues, against all odds, to shine its light.”

    Boston Globe

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Sally Monaghan | 2/5/2014

    " Really interesting book about a time and place I know nothing about. In China in the 1970s, two young men from educated families sent by the government to the country for "re-education." Although books are banned, the men find a hidden stash of books. Not only did this book provide a very vivid description of China at that time, it also demonstrates the power of learning and literacy to change lives. It was a really great book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Dan Piette | 1/21/2014

    " China in 1967 and the consequences of literature "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Nicole Ristine | 1/19/2014

    " I thought this book was boring. There was no character and story development. It lacked emotion. It did have some good irony at the end, but only enough to make it 2 stars instead of 1, not enough to salvage it. The author hints about exciting things that might happen but never do. It felt empty and unfinished. It's sad because It could have been a great book, it had such potential. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Brian Derbes | 1/13/2014

    " Beautiful little story. "

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