I am compelled to write by some virtue of a novel I’ve twice encountered. The first encounter was rather bereft, and I decided to leave this treasure only to return to it exactly one year later. The read itself was ephemeral, but to me, it left a lasting impression. Dai Sijie’s book, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamtress spoke to me in ways that the reactionary novels of the time spoke to the two main characters in the book. I felt an instant connection — almost as if a past life had permitted me some sense of ownership with regard to the semi-autobiographical work of fiction. Perhaps that was Dai Sijie’s way of saying that the Little Seamstress was not the only one to be re-educated through prominent works of literature. Indeed, a treasure beyond price.
“I was carried away, swept along by the mighty stream of words pouring from the hundreds of pages. To me it was the ultimate book: once you had read it, neither your own life nor the world you lived in would ever look the same.” - Dai Sijie (Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress)