Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Customer Reviews

504 Ratings

Overall Ratings

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4 out of 5 stars
By Kelli on 27-02-2003

Culture Shock

What a wonderfully enlightening (and slightly shocking) introduction to Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution in China during the 1970's. I had never studied nor read books about this historical period so this story turned out to be both entertaining and educational for me. The narrator was effective and the story flowed seamlessly to a somewhat quick conclusion. I listened to the book on a road trip and I was rather disappointed to see the book end when I still had many questions left unanswered. I recommend this story to the listener seeking cultural diversity and historical perspective.

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14 of 15 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Merav on 20-03-2003

Valued Treasure

Fine writing and a good authentic story.
I truly enjoyed this quality book and the excellent reading by the talented narrator. This audio book is a true treasure and is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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8 of 9 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Cid on 07-04-2005


This is a lovely story, with fantastic narration by B.D. Wong. I've listened to it several time, and enjoyed it again and again.

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5 of 6 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Dr. on 01-06-2009

Sweet Little Book

A short story about two adolescent boys sent to the hinter lands for "reeducation" during China's cultural revolution. The story is interesting in terms of the insights it gives about China during this time and the impact reeducation had for these young boys when sent away from their families. You learn, for example, that boys are boys anywhere on earth (ditto for small town people). The story is very easy to listen to and well written. Ultimately, I compared it to cotton candy - sweet and fun, but leaving you hungry with not a lot of substance.

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Carin on 17-11-2011

I finally understand The Cultural Revolution.

I have long heard good things about Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, and I really liked it.

I thought the choice of B. D. Wong as narrator was interesting as he's Chinese-American, but of course on an audiobook, you don't see the narrator so there's no reason to have found someone of the appropriate ethnicity (particularly as he doesn't have an accent, and presumably - although I haven't researched - English is his first language.) But I liked that detail as I did picture him as the main character.

Our hero and his friend Luo have been sent out to a rural village during the Chinese Cultural Revolution to learn how to appreciate the proletariat. They are subjected to demeaning, backbreaking work, but all the boredom and stress melts away when they discover the beautiful daughter of the region's tailor, and a stash of translated Western novels.

The novel was very evocative. I found myself physically recoiling at some very accurate imagery more than once, as I was out walking. I would make faces, clench up, and sometimes even try to move out of the way, as the descriptions were so visceral that they seemed real. B. D. Wong was good at giving the different characters different voices, and I never was confused about who was speaking. With the Chinese names, I was a little glad to have someone else pronouncing them instead of me guessing, although many of the characters didn't even have names, but nicknames, like "Four Eyes," the owner of the illegal novels.

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress was a romantic, delicate story that opened my eyes to the Cultural Revolution (I had heard it referenced before but never understood what it was.) A fine gem, the book has moments of humor, fancy, danger, and passion.

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3 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Geraldine on 16-12-2003

Balzac and the Little Chinese Mistress

This is perfect book. The story is fascinating, the characters approachable, and the text is well crafted. Most of all it is a colorful, enchanting picture of life in China during the Cultural Revolution, an event that I knew formerly only through the dry faacts of history.

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3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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