Set in the early 1970s, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is the story of two teenage boys caught up in China's Cultural Revolution. Although this doesn’t sound as exciting as a firefight in a major battle or a planet in a faraway galaxy, the book never loses your attention. For a teenage boy, it is easy to relate to the teenagers in the book: the story deals with problems of independence, friendship, and the narrator’s budding sexuality. Dai Sijie captures aspects of human nature through discussing things like love, hatred, hope, changing worldviews, and the longing to escape one’s personal setting. The reader can’t help but feel sympathy towards the characters. Hearing that the chances of them returning to their home are three in a thousand really made me rethink how I treasure my family and the time I spend with them. Throughout Luo and the narrator's adventures, from retelling a movie that they went to see to finding out that the Seamstress is in trouble, the way that the story is told makes the reader want them to succeed.
Chicago Tribune "A wonderful novel. . . formed by detailed layering and exquisite craftsmanship, like a beautifully tailored garment."
The New York Times "Poignant, humorous and romantic."
Guardian "Infused with the magic and spark of myth and fable, Sijie reminds us how precious intellectual liberty is."