Dai SijieÃÂs first novel, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, is something that appeals for both Feminist and Marxist readers. It is a story of love, beauty, awakening of desires, romance, literature, and how all these ÃÂpeopleÃÂ the lives of those involved in the re-education movement in the height of the Cultural Revolution of China in Mao Tse TungÃÂs reign in the 1970ÃÂs.
Part of the reeducation program at that time was the automatic suspicion on intellectuals, who are then sent to provinces or countryside to ÃÂcleanseÃÂ themselves of their bourgeois ways. Two of the main characters in the story, Luo and the narrator (whose name, as translated in English means "Horse Sword Bell") were sent to the fictional mountain named Phoenix of the Sky to be reeducated by carrying natural fertilizers (i.e. animal dung) on their backs and working in the dangerous copper mines. Luo is a son of a famous dentist, who has been labeled as ÃÂan enemy of the stateÃÂ for once performing dentistry on Chairman MaoÃÂs teeth and for hinting the imperfection of Chairman Mao.
The narrator (we shall address to him as Ma), on the other hand, is a son of a pulmonary physician. Ma is also a gifted musician and is dubbed as ÃÂthe fiddlerÃÂ for he plays the violin.
It has been stated in the novel that only the books approved by the government (books about human labor and manpower) is allowed to be read. Upon Luo and MaÃÂs arrival, the village Chief goes through their possessions, throwing ÃÂbourgeoisÃÂ stuff on the fire and nearly doing the same thing with Ma's violin (thinking it was toy) before Luo convinces him to let Ma play Mozart on it. Ma charms the villagers with the sonata and is allowed to keep his instrument...