Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Book - 2001
Average Rating:
Rate this:
New York Times Bestseller

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is an enchanting tale that captures the magic of reading and the wonder of romantic awakening. An immediate international bestseller, it tells the story of two hapless city boys exiled to a remote mountain village for re-education during China's infamous Cultural Revolution. There the two friends meet the daughter of the local tailor and discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation. As they flirt with the seamstress and secretly devour these banned works, the two friends find transit from their grim surroundings to worlds they never imagined.
Publisher: c2001.
ISBN: 9780385722209
Branch Call Number: FIC Dai


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Oct 24, 2017

Our library's Art Lovers Book Club gave this an overall rating of 7 out of 10.
It had an ending that you either loved or hated!

Aug 04, 2016

SPL Summer Book Bingo: translated from another language

Sep 03, 2015

An interesting look into China's Cultural Revolution through the eyes of a man who lived it. Very nice writing, indented with subtle symbolism.

Reviewed: 6 Aug 2005

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 23, 2014

Two boys, both sons of doctors, are exiled to a remote Chinese village for re-education during the Cultural Revolution. Their salvation is a violin, a Balzac novel, and the beautiful daughter of a peasant tailor. Full of surprising twists, turns, and original characters, this magical novel would be a good choice for book groups.

May 06, 2014

great book for a look at China during the cultural revolution and life in the countryside, especially young people's lives.

Apr 25, 2014

'Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress' is a story of two young men sent from city to the Chinese countryside for 're-education' by Red Guards during Mao's infamous Cultural Revolution as their intellectual activities and foreign influences are perceived to be a threat to the communist regime. In their exile, they perform menial work and live in squalor however life is not too hard on them as they find repose in the stunningly beautiful surroundings of the Phoenix Mountain and take delight in teaching French literature to a local lass simply known as the little seamstress while trying to win her favours. The magic of books delivers a sense of freedom to the little seamstress as well as her grandfather in ways they had never thought possible.

Jun 07, 2013

This book was delightful

Nov 20, 2012

Interesting tale of two teenage boys during the cultural revolution in China when they are sent out of the city into the mountains to learn how the peasants live.

Apr 17, 2012

Six words: I will never read that again.

brianreynolds Jun 11, 2011

This certainly is a "likable" little tale. It seems to stutter quite a bit, trying to decide what exactly it's trying to say. It might be a complaint against authoritarian regimes, but it can't decide whether the characters are free to do whatever they want whenever they want or whether they are hard done by prisoners of a totalitarian dictator. It might be a touching story of first love or a train wreck of misjudged affection and misplaced trust. It might be about sophistication triumphing over ignorance or art over provincialism, but it just as easily could be trying to say that fancy underwear and a better accent can turn a sow's ear into a silk purse. Mercifully, it was short.

What made it less than memorable for me was the sparseness of the prose. Not mincing words can add incredible power to significant plot lines. I usually appreciate that a great deal. Not giving the reader enough information to fall in love with the characters, however, is a recipe for the reader not being engaged in the story. I had a hard time staying awake.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

Jun 24, 2013

violet_owl_156 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jan 23, 2010

Seraph thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


Add a Summary

Aug 04, 2016

Interesting story about 2 boys in the 1970s in China who are exiled to the countryside for "re-education". They both fall in love with the prettiest girl on the mountain, the Little Seamstress. The boys are both quite fond of reading.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at OPL

To Top