Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Dai Sijie

Just read that Dai Sijie's 2007 novel 'Par une nuit ou la lune ne s'est pas levee' has been translated (Once Upon a Moonlit Night) and published this year. It is set in the 1970s when Bertolucci is filming 'The Last Emperor'. One for my wish list.

I read his first novel 'Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress' which was set in 1971 (the middle of Mao's Cultural Revolution). Two boys, sons of doctors, are sent to be 're-educated' by the peasants in the countryside (just like Dai Sijie himself was for four years). They discover and steal,, a hidden suitcase full of 19th Century Western novels, which they, and the Seamstress of the title devour with a fervour and as the months go by good and bad things happen to our trio.

This was a delightful read about love, literature and ideas and how stories have a power of their own that cross time and cultures which ultimately change all their lives. No wonder that dictatorships try to control books - they can be dangerous...

Recommended read.

1 comment:

w said...

I just read this as well and was astounded by it (partly because it's what I've always wanted to write myself!). Just lovely.