Day 20: The first U.S. English edition of Dai Sijie’s Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, translated by Ina Rilke, had such a charming cover. I bought the tiny book and persuaded my book club to read it, mostly because of the jacket. As it turned out, I recall thinking at the time, the shoes on the cover don’t look anything like the shoes in the story, but it hardly matters. The cover did its job.
Dai Sijie, who is Chinese, wrote the novella “in French, a language he speaks fluently but with a heavy accent,” according to Alan Riding, who profiled Dai for the New York Times. The book originally was published by Gallimard, and the first English-language edition came from Chatto & Windus.
Gabriele Wilson is the designer responsible for the beautiful cover of the Knopf edition pictured here, which so memorably attracted my attention in a bookstore.
The new president of the Women’s National Book Association—Congratulations, Carin Siegfried!—posted her positive review of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress on Goodreads, if you’re interested in knowing more. I wasn’t aware that the book’s author wrote and directed the film adaptation of the semi-autobiographical novel. If the trailer is any indication, I’d like to see it someday.