The first photo here above is not showing the Szechuan Mountains but the Huang Shan Mountains in the Anhui region, which is still in China!
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie. (Book and film)
During this summer I’ve read the above mentioned book which I’ve very much enjoyed. The story is about two teenage boys ( Ma and Luo)who are sent to a political re-education camp in 1971 at the remote Mountain of the Phoenix of the Sky in Sechuan, because, in those dark days of China’s Cultural Revolution, their parents have been doctors and therefore considered enemies of the people. Despite the fact that it is about a really dark period in China’s history its quirky humour has also made me smile, especially when Luo explains the people in that remote village that Ma’s piece of music he used to play is called „Mozart is Thinking of Chairman Mao“, or when the same people are fascinated by Luo’s clock.During their stay up there, the boys make friendship with Four-Eyes , who secretly possesses an illicit catch of European classic novels, including Balzac and Flaubert. Through these books , which they steal, they are able to enter the world of sensuality and sensitivity far removed from Mao’s China.
The Little Seamstress, whom the boys at first consider uncultivated.is the most delightful character of the story. She is the daughter of a very appreciated and famous local tailor. They boys read these books to this beautiful and shy girl and through them she learns about the outside world and finally leaves the mountain and everything she knew in order to start a new life, despite the fact that she has fallen in love with both the boys.
The book has an enormous emotional power, when the writer describes the resilience of the human spirit in face of tyranny. Ma and Luo are capable of fooling around , cheating the authorities or pursuing friendships and love.
Click on the link and you can listen to some questions about the book:
Here I also prepared you a Hot Potatoes exercise. You can see the right answers online.http://www.langedi49.ch/Balzac2.htm
If you feel like, watch the film with English subtitles!
Books I can also highly recommend:
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (shortstories) and The Vagrants by Yiyun Li/
Summary of “The Vagrants” on the New York Times: