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Posts Tagged ‘Dai Sijii

DaiSijieBorn in China in 1954, and now living in France, Dai Sijee is the author of several novels and also a director of films. His most famous novel, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, is the winner of several awards. Based on Dai Sajie’s life, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress has also been adapted to the screen and will be reviewed here tomorrow. Save the date: March 18!


The parents of Dai Sajie were professors of Medical Sciences at West China University. Under their influence, he grew up extensively reading and thinking, and became subject from 1971 to 1974 to a reeducation camp during the Cultural Revolution. Wikipedia reports that as the only child in the family, Sajie would have been excused, he went there with the idea of the Spartan training. Much of his experience served as inspiration to his first novel, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress.


After Sajie returned from reeducation camp, he studied art history, as well as completed his professional certificate as a teacher and briefly taught. At age 30, Sajie left China for France on a scholarship to study Western art and cinema. After finishing his studies, he remained in France, where he directed three feature-length films. He also wrote and directed an adaptation of his novel. According to GradeSaver, Dai Sajie applied to produce each of these films in China, but has been refused permits each time.


In 2000, Dai Sajie turned to writing in 2000 and published his first novel, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. Hugely popular, the novel has been translated into twenty-five languages. GradeSaver notes that although Chinese authorities banned the novel, they allowed Dai Sajie to film the adaptation there, but then banned the film after its completion.

With some money over the last three years, I had a dream that I would be able to write and live in China, but it hasn’t worked out. The censors won’t accept my books, films or projects. My dream of writing in my own language has not been fulfilled. It is very sad.

–Dai Sajie, New York Times

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

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