1971: Mao's Cultural Revolution is at its peak. Two sons of doctors, sent to 're-education' camps, forced to carry buckets of excrement up and down mountain paths, have only their sense of humour to keep them going. Although the attractive daughter of the local tailor also helps to distract them from the task in hand.
The boys' true re-education starts, however, when they discover a hidden suitcase packed with the great Western novels of the Nineteenth Century. Their lives are tranformed. And not only their lives: after listening to the stories of Balzac, the little seamstress will never be the same again.
This report prepared by Steve Slack
An excellent read, which is a fairytale like story of two
city boys who are banished to the countryside in China as
part of the "re-education" program in 1971. The escapades of the narrator and his friend Luo are simultaneously
funny and bittersweet. They encounter the "most beautiful girl in all the nearby villages" (the Little Seamstress)
and she becomes Luo's girlfriend. The boys then stumble
upon books by French greats (Balzan and Duman and Romain Rolland) in a time when all books are forbidden except the propaganda materials.
Die Sijie, a filmmaker from France, won numerous awards
in France for this one, his first novel. Die himself
went through such a reeducation program in the early '70s.
This small book is first and foremost a great and easy read as a very engaging story.
This report prepared by R Prasad