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Chinese Translation of Int'l Best-seller Debuts

The Chinese translation of an international best-seller written by France-based Chinese writer Dai Sijie has been published in China, following completion of a film of the novel shot in the Chinese language in 2002.

An autobiographical novel of Dai Sijie, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is the story of two boys who are sent to Phoenix Mountain in the southwestern Sichuan Province for re-education by farmers during the Cultural Revolution (1965-1975).

They while away the days of peasant life with a violin, a beautiful daughter of a local tailor and a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation.

In their forbidden books, the boys find a passage to worlds that they had thought lost forever. Meanwhile, after listening to the boys' vivid retellings of Balzac and his contemporaries, even the Little Seamstress is deeply touched and forever transformed.

Dai Sijie is a filmmaker who was himself reeducated between 1971-1974. He left China in 1984 for France, where he has lived and worked ever since.

Balzac and the Little Seamstress, Dai's first novel and originally written in French, was an overnight sensation when it was published in France by Gallimard publishing house in 2000 and reported sales of 500,000 copies.

Over 300,000 copies of the English translation of the book have been sold so far and rights to the novel have been sold to 20-plus countries.

The international best-seller was translated by Yu Zhongxian, a well-known Chinese translator and chief editor of the magazine World Literature.

Han Jingqun, deputy editor-in-chief of Beijing October Literature and Arts Publishing House, publisher of the Chinese translation, said Dai Sijie had successfully fashioned a story about the resilience of the human spirit, the wonder of romantic awakening and the magical power of storytelling.

The film, re-written and directed by author Dai Sijie, was shot in the Chinese language in 2002. The movie stars Zhou Xun, Chen Kun and Liu Ye, all Chinese box-office stars, and was nominated for the "best foreign picture" award at the 2003 Golden Globes.

(Xinhua News Agency July 24, 2003)

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