Year 4, Book 9

9. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
I always heard such rave reviews about this book when I was working at Barnes and Noble but for some reason never read it until now. I can’t say that I share the rave reviews. It’s a rather small book, under 200 pages with the pages themselves being very small. I think I didn’t care for it that much because I didn’t feel like there was much depth to it. The story centers around 2 teenage boys in China who are sent to a small town in the country for “re-education”. They also keep in contact with another boy who they knew who is placed in a nearby village. They discover that he has a stash of Western books that they eagerly want to get their hands on. They also befriend the daughter of a highly revered tailor, who is the title “little Chinese seamstress.” The book does provide fodder for an interesting commentary on the importance and freedom of knowledge, and I think it will make for an interesting discussion at the book club I read it for. However, the lack of depth really didn’t make me care about any of the characters. The narrator, who is one of the boys, doesn’t even get a name. That always bugs me when I’m reading books. So I found it really hard to get invested in what was happening. I give it a 5 out of 10.

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