Know what makes a BookGirl happy? Well, all kinds of book activity throughout the week. For example, earlier in the week, I got a birthday present from my best friend – a Barnes & Noble gift card. Although, that usually sends me into a tailspin because there are so many shiny, lovely books to pick. Then all day at work I thought about how on my way home I’d stop off at the library and pick up the latest David Sedaris book, Dress Your Family in Corduroy. The book is now on my nightstand. And, finally, last night was book group night.
Our group discussed Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie. This slim but beautifully crafted novel tells the story of two young men living in China during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Both boys come from educated and prosperous families and are sent to a remote mountain village for re-education. Their lives are filled with arduous work and the ever-present fear of being accused as enemies of the people.
They soon make a discovery of a suitcase filled with books of Western classics in Chinese translation. These banned classics, and a flirtation they begin with a young seamstress helps them survive their grim surroundings.
While the novel has a lot of harsh images of what these boys endured, it is also told with a lot of warmth and humor. Best of all for me, is the true appreciation of literature that is present throughout the book as the boys discover Balzac, Dickens, Kipling, and other writers.
Here’s just one passage that describes their passion for books:
” …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.”
That is just wonderful. Hope you are all being swept away by wonderful books, magazine articles or any other literary pursuits this week.