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Mao Badges and Rocket Parts

Robert Macfarlane, 23 August 2001

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress 
by Dai Sijie, translated by Ina Rilke.
Chatto, 208 pp., £10, June 2001, 0 7011 6982 6
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The Drink and Dream Teahouse 
by Justin Hill.
Weidenfeld, 344 pp., £12.99, March 2001, 0 297 64697 4
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... and became known as paoshu, or ‘running-books’. Early on in his story, the unnamed narrator of Dai Sijie’s charming novella Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress very briefly explains all this: a sign that the book has been written for Western audiences unfamiliar with recent Chinese history. It is 1971, the high noon of the Cultural ...

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