I bought this (trade paperback) debut novel at the Friends of the Library Used Book Store in Wheaton, Maryland.
This lovely story almost reads like fairy tale. Two young men being "re-educated" in China learn that a third has possession of books of classic world literature (illegal under Chairman Mao's government). We are taken lightly into the recent history of Chinese government repression and shown how a few people react by watching these fellows acquire the books and use them with joy.
Light, fun, and a pleasurable reading experience...
3/15/12: PM from trex3 confirming the shipping of the original book. 3/12/12: This book was never received by LittleDachshund (Bulgaria) who bought her own copy and started another bookray withthe remaining participants from this list.
This book was a 100 Most Traveled BC Book! On 7/15/09, it was listed as #22. If it ever shows up again, let's keep it moving! Just let me know to restart this original bookray. Thanks! (SqueakyChu)
An interesting book that gives its readers a pretty good insight into the Cultural Revolution. I was afraid it might be either depressing or melodramatic like so many books with such subjects are, but the author avoided that trap by writing about what happened in a matter-of-fact manner. The book ended a little abruptly as I was expecting the author to tell us what happened to Luo and the narrator, but I'd still recommend this book for it's lyrical prose and occasional splashes of humor.
I found the book to be enjoyable and interesting. The naivete of our two young heros is a welcomed change of pace. They are young men whose innocence is compelling in a world gone crazy. In this Dai Sijie first novel we can see greatness to come. A lovely tale from a romantic and poetic author. Next stop on this bookring is Wa, I am mailing it to ahytholoday today! Enjoy!!
what a wonderful book! as i mentioned before, we had seen the movie at the international film festival but i was looking forward more to the book! its a wonderful tale of ironic "re-education" during a time in thrall to the cult of personality. amazing! dave and i read this one aloud at night before bed. it just seemed fitting......
Received in the mail today. The packaging was torn, but the book survived. I will read it and release it within a few days. Thanks!
This is a lovely little novel! It's quite short (184 pages), but the author makes every page count. It's a story about the power of literature as experienced by two teenaged boys during their 're-education' in Mao's China.
"Picture, if you will, a boy of nineteen, still slumbering in the limbo of adolescence, having heard nothing but revolutionary blather about patriotism, Communism, ideology and propaganda all his life, falling headlong into a story of awakening desire, passion, impulsive action, love, of all the subjects that had, until then, been hidden from me."
The tradition of oral story-telling is also brought into the spotlight, although the narrator feels its days are numbered.
"The only thing that Lao was really good at was stelling stories. A pleasing talent to be sure, but a marginal one, with little future in it. Modern man has moved beyond the Thousand-and-One Nights, and modern societies everywhere, whether socialist or capitalist, have done away with the old storytellers - more's the pity."
This short tale of a half dozen characters, a remote locale, and the power of a good book is a gem. Enjoy!
Journal Entry 9 by LGinder on Saturday, June 12, 2004
Got the book in the mail today. Will read soon and pass on!
Journal Entry 10 by LGinder on Monday, June 14, 2004
Short, easy to read little novel of two young boys being re-educated in China. Hard to envision that happening so recently in history. I enjoyed the book thou I thought the ending was to abrupt - left me with a "what now?" feeling.
I've PM'd likesamystery and will mail it just as soon as I get his/her address. Thanks for sharing!
Journal Entry 11 by LGinder on Tuesday, June 15, 2004
I opened this book on Sunday, and couldn't put it down. Overall, it was a fun, quick read. Yet it also ably combined the historical reality of the Cultural Revolution with enduring human traits (perseverance, survival, power, greed, love, etc.), and two very endearing young men. The story of how they find creative ways to survive their "re-education" and the "power of literature to free the mind" is charming and funny despite the dark and grim setting. The Little Seamstress herself is a wonderful character, and the unintended consequences of the power of literature in her life is as thought provoking as it is funny.
This was a great read. What a delight! I remember the feeling of reading banned books when I was growing up in another Communist country. For me and for my friends it was an adventure. We never even thought how dangerous this reading was, that we were putting ourselves and our families in great jeopardy if we were to be discovered. I am disappointed by such abrupt ending. I wish he would tell us what happened to everyone in the book, did they ever came back to town? Or were they stuck on that mountain for all eternity? And what happened to the Little Seamstress?
I really enjoyed this one, although I would have been happy for it to have gone on twice as long. I felt I could really picture the house on stilts and the old man eating pebbles. I was suprised when a few chapters by other characters were thrown in- it seemed a little random. Maybe it should have nbeen done at the end instead? I recently read Red Azalea by Anchee Min, which is an excellent memoir about her experience with "re-education"- I highly recommend it if you liked this book. Thanks for the chance to read this, Squeaky Chu!
Journal Entry 21 by affinity4books at Controlled Release in Bryan, Texas USA on Thursday, September 02, 2004
Released 14 yrs ago (9/2/2004 UTC) at Controlled Release in Bryan, Texas USA
This was part of a book ring received Thursday just as I finished another book -- good timing!
I enjoyed this "fable" set in China's cultural revolution, and it gave me some feel for how that must have been. I was only 8 in 1971, so don't really have any first hand knowledge (if any Westerners really did) of what was occurring to re-educate the "intellectuals". I dont' think I would have lasted 5 minutes in their situation!
I'll send this on as soon as I get the next address.
Journal Entry 23 by ID20080001 on Friday, September 17, 2004
I got this in the mail today along with a rabck from Doggerham(Gorky Park). I will be reading this soon as I have finish the two ahead of it.
Journal Entry 24 by ID20080001 at Controlled Postal Release in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota USA on Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Released 14 yrs ago (9/21/2004 UTC) at Controlled Postal Release in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota USA
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Sending this off today to the next bookring participant.
DC#0304 1070 0000 6181 5406
Journal Entry 25 by ID20080001 on Tuesday, September 21, 2004
This was a quick read. I enjoyed the story. It was interesting to see what re-education was like in China in the 1970's.
This book was very easy to read in a couple of days, much different from the huge books I've been tackling lately so I appreciated it. Like someone above said, it's very hard to believe this story was set in China in the 1970s and not in some far distant time and place. It had a nice, dreamlike quality and I really felt for the two main characters. I'll send it off to the next person tomorrow.
What a lovely book this was! The writing was beautiful - not a word was wasted or superfluous. Also the story itself was great, showing the power that books and literature can have over people. I was wondering if the story was at all autobiographical in anyway as I noticed that the author went through a period of re-education.
I will PM Avonlea-1 and post it onto them as soon as I get their address.
It has been more than a week since I PMed Avonlea-1 and since I have had no reply I will ask the next person in the ring for their address and send them the book instead.
It was a lovely book! I enjoyed it so much! Such purity of emotions and delicate humour! I couldn`t help to make a comparison with "Reading Lolita in Tehran",as in both memoirs books occupy a central place. However, I think that literature was much better integrated into the canvas of "Balzac and the little chinese seamstress". I liked very much the friendship of the two boys. They are always together and help each other in a unique way.Their efforts to educate the village girl and catch her attention, result in losing her forever. The village becomes too small for her dreams inspired by the forbidden novels. The friends stay together not only in everyday life but also in this moment of betrayal and disappointment. As the narrator says,he was not so upset of her leaving,than of her not telling him about her plans.
Once again,a delightful novel written in a beautiful delicate way, to bring once more to readers` attention eternal values such as knowledge,loyalty,love and sacrifice.
Journal Entry 45 by bookmaniac70 at by mail in sent by post, A Bookray -- Controlled Releases on Saturday, October 15, 2005
Released 13 yrs ago (10/15/2005 UTC) at by mail in sent by post, A Bookray -- Controlled Releases
This book is absolutely enchanting! The writing is fluid, poetic and funny at the same time. I loved the way it pictures the power of litterature and how it changes the characters's lives. The oral tradition of story-telling is also very present throughout the novel and makes you want to read it aloud!
Received today from Chich, merci Sarah pour la jolie carte ! I have 2 other rings at home, but I'll probably mail all of them around January 15th. Thank you SqueakyChu for including me in this ray and respecting my shipping preferences.
With the Christmas holidays and all those festivities, I fell behind on rings/rays, so I apologize in advance about any delay that will derive from that.
This is one of the books that make you stop. When I first started it, I thought this is a slim book, so I should be able to finish it fast and move up on the other rings. I was so wrong ! In a few words, Dai Sijie have the abilities to bring his reader to another world. I knew about the cultural revolution and I had heard about the reducation of youngsters, but never I would have understood what it was like without Sijie's words. For me, Balzac meant tedious, long and boring books. With those two teens, I re-discovered the pleasure of Balzac's words. This was truly a magical novel although short in pages, long in imagination and provoked thoughts.
Thanks SqueakyChu for making this book travel so much ! It will be mailed on January 20 to TiaTia.
A book of unintended consequences. Banning the books made them more of the forbidden fruit..and twice as tasty. The desire to "citify" the little seamstress for his benefit resulted in Luo losing her. A great read that I wizzed through once I started. On to Texas via Washington, where I am working for a week.
OK guys, I have the book now. I didn't think it sounded like a title I have signed up for but at my age the mind goes. Looks like an interesting book, I might have a look-see while I get the correct address and make my way to the post office. Now I wonder what bookring I was supposed to get?
Oh, SqueakyChu, thank you so much for including me in this wonderful ray! My comments echo many made by previous readers--the book was simply a lovely experience. The discovery of the cache of banned books and the experiences of all who were touched by the stories--whether it was through direct reading, or through having the stories read out loud or narrated in storytelling form really touches on the vitality and necessity of literature (and the broader arts) in our lives. No matter what the government may surpress, that desire exists, though it may lie dormant, in many of us. Though set in Communist China during the "re-education" period, one can certainly draw parallels to situations in other countries today where much literature enjoys "forbidden" status.
I'm off to PM Karenlea for her address and to get this moving again as soon as I can. Thanks again for sharing!
A very sweet little story. It ended too quickly. The ending was a pretty big surprise, but it completely brought the story full circle. We actually discussed this book in my English class, with my professor reading portions of it. She unfortunately gave a little too much of the story away. I still enjoyed it very much.
I will be mailing this off either tomorrow or Saturday.
Book arrived today in the mail safe and sound. It is always so exciting to find a Bookcrossing package in the mail! I was amazed to see from the journal what a well travelled book it is. I will start it as soon as I finish reading another bookring book that I am in the middle of at the moment.
Wow-there is a lot squeezed into this little book.
I was sobered by the fact that at the same time these two young men were being "re-educated", I was being well educated. Makes me feel so very fortunate.
The effects of western literature/ideas in a culture of repression raised in this book are thought provoking. Thoughts about how individual freedom carries with it choices whose consequences will play out in human lives in some ways differently, and in some ways the same, across cultures lingers in my mind.
Thaks for sharing the book SqueakyChu. Sending on to rebeccaljames.
I am sad to say I am passing it along without reading it! It came the day I went back to school to get my classroom ready. I have not had more than about 10 spare minutes since then to read for pleasure! :( I do not want to hold up those waiting for it any longer! I will have to add it to my wishlist.
arrived in the mail today in a large box from my mother. I suspect it has been waiting patiently in a pile of "things to be sent to my daughter" for much of the last two months, since I up and moved from British Columbia to the Yukon Territory to be with the man I love -- it's a long story.
Anyways, there were 6 books in the box, but not all of them were rings. There are still a few ahead of this, but I'll get to it ASAP. It's amazing to be part of such a huge ring!
I liked this book quite a bit. Little bits of it still stick with me, like "Mozart is Thinking of Chairman Mao." I know very little about that time in China, so it was interesting to pick it up through the plot. I had waited so long to get a chance at this book, and am very glad to have finally gotten it. It was a very quick and easy read -- I read it all in two days once I started it... (it was just a matter of getting started!)
I have totoroandmei's address, and will send it along on the next payday. It's still got so very far to go!
Journal Entry 72 by GateGypsy at controlled release: bookring in Whitehorse, Yukon Canada on Thursday, January 25, 2007
Released 11 yrs ago (1/25/2007 UTC) at controlled release: bookring in Whitehorse, Yukon Canada
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Dropped in the mail this morning, and I'm pretty sure it's on it's way to totoroandmei in a fastish-manner.... Enjoy!
This is what I wrote about this book in my blog: "Personally, I think it makes you think about how lucky we are to be able to read the books we want, to see the films we want, to express our opinions, etc without fear (Is this still so? Lately sometimes I think some people don't seem to to want those little (but so important!) freedoms for everydody over here, in my own country... sometimes it feels a bit scary... freedom to express their opinions, but not to allow people to have different ones and to express them... isn't it sad? and dangerous?), although of course, it is not that way all over the world, but when we have enjoyed these freedoms/rights for a while over here, we relax, we take them for granted and we think we will enjoy them forever... are we sure it will be that way forever?!" Really nice book!
Wow - what can i say, a sweet hauntingly beautiful novel that lifted my heart with its message of the wonders of literature, and saddened me to the cruelty inflicted upon the Chinese nation by the cultural revolution. the story told from the point of two sweet naive boys, is a gem. Thank you so much for sharing. What a wonderful book
Really enjoyed this book Made me realise how woefully ignorant I am about something which happened a relatively short time ago. It is beautifully written. Many thanks for sharing. I will PM Kera for their address and post it as soon as I have it!
I just received this well-traveled little book in the mail. I am just in the middle of another book, but this one looks intruiging and seems to be a quick read, so I hope I will be able to have it traveling again in no time. Thanks for this bookring, SqueakyChu, and thanks to everyone else for actually keeping the book traveling for such a long time.
Well, well, once again I realized this is a bookring I shouldn't have signed up for in the first place. I am sure this is a charming little book, but I just couldn't get into it. It is very well written and I can't say anything bad about it, the problem was just that I wasn't interested in the story. At. All. Don't know why, maybe China is just not an interesting place for me. Anyway, since I was at least clever enough to get Lesehest's address right away I can send it off to Norway tomorrow morning on my way to work. So at least I am not gonna hold up the ring for long. ;-) Thanks for including me anyway.
Journal Entry 89 by Sharky13 at Devonport, Tasmania Australia on Friday, June 24, 2011
I sincerely apologize to everyone that has read or wanted to read & be a part of this book ring. The book is now available for further travel so please contact SqueakyChu if you would like to be added to the list & I will then post it to you.
Journal Entry 90 by Sharky13 at Devonport, Tasmania Australia on Wednesday, August 03, 2011
This book is now FINALLY on the travel again. I posted it this morning to Kobie03 in Canada.
As for my long overdue review...for some reason I had trouble getting into this book so I admit to never actually finishing it....must be the bio/true crime nut in me.lol
Happy journey little book, & once again sincerest apologies to all for the LONG hold of this book.
Journal Entry 91 by kobie03 at Lewins Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada on Thursday, August 18, 2011
Book arrived today . Thanks.
Journal Entry 92 by kobie03 at Lewins Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada on Sunday, August 28, 2011
Thank you squeakyChu for including me in this book ring.I loved this little gem of a book. great story telling, the prose flowed so easily and the humor had me laughing out loud as I imagined the scenes. A story that captures the power of books and how they change lives.Also made me savor the freedoms we often take for granted. Waiting for herchelle's address to send this book travelling again.
Journal Entry 93 by kobie03 at Lewins Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada on Monday, September 05, 2011
Released 7 yrs ago (9/6/2011 UTC) at Lewins Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
mailed to herchelle.
Journal Entry 94 by herchelle at Calgary, Alberta Canada on Monday, September 12, 2011
OH MAH GOSH! This book has had 44 journallers??!! I am so excited to be a part of this bookring, thank you everyone and thank you Kobie03, I am proud to keep this moving. PMing mathgirl40 now.
Journal Entry 95 by herchelle at Calgary, Alberta Canada on Thursday, September 15, 2011
That was a very fast read, and once again, thanks to Bookcrossers, I had the opportunity to read a bood that I would have NEVER read on my own. I think because I have heard so much about Balzac from my dear hubby who studied at the University of Paris and loved Balzac, it should be great, but I just couldn't get into his work.
This was a great story of life in 1970's China, the two teenaged boys found amazing ways to survive and the suitcase of the forbidden books gave them meaning to their lives. I really enjoyed the experience...even the ending, I just had to read the last chapter a few times to understand.
On its way to Mathgirl40
Journal Entry 96 by mathgirl40 at Waterloo, Ontario Canada on Wednesday, September 28, 2011
This book arrived in the mail today. Thank you, Herchelle! I've heard good things about it and am looking forward to reading it.
Journal Entry 97 by mathgirl40 at Waterloo, Ontario Canada on Thursday, October 06, 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It exposed the misguided ideas and sad consequences of the Cultural Revolution but was funny and charming at the same time. I will be sending it across Canada to trex3 shortly.
Journal Entry 98 by mathgirl40 at Waterloo, Ontario Canada on Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Released 7 yrs ago (10/19/2011 UTC) at Waterloo, Ontario Canada
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
I sent this book off to trex3 in Newfoundland about a week ago but forgot to add the release notes until now. Hopefully, it will arrive soon!
Journal Entry 99 by trex3 at Flatrock, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada on Monday, October 24, 2011
book arrived today thanks
Journal Entry 100 by trex3 at Flatrock, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada on Monday, November 14, 2011
Love this read can't imagine a world with out books En route to the next reader. I mailed the book on Nov. 15 2011 to LittleDachshund