I finished Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (by Dai Sijie) last night, after a down-and-dirty reading session on a flight to San Fran for work, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t like the book.
It was one of those situations where you’re sort of surprised at your not liking it, once you come to the end, because reading the book itself wasn’t a struggle. The ending was just beyond anticlimactic, and while that may have been a deliberate choice, to mimic some of the French authors referenced in the novel itself, the entire story really lacked some punch.
The premise is interesting, inherently: two young men in China are sent to the rural mountain villages in the throes of the People’s Revolution, to be ‘re-educated.’ I learned a great deal about this period in China, and the injustices so many experienced as a result of their being labeled the ‘bourgeois class.’ So that element of the novel definitely adds an interesting layer. But not enough to mask the underwhelming love triangle storyline.
The best thing about this book is that it has inspired me to want to read some of the French classics: Balzac, of course, and Rolland and Camus. So perhaps the Provence-inspired Francophile binge will continue into the French literary greats…