Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is a 2000 novel by Dai Sijie. It tells the semi-autobiographical story of a nameless narrator and his best friend, Luo, who are sent to be re-educated in a remote village of China under Mao Zedong's regime. The boys stumble upon a suitcase of forbidden Western books, and are lent Honore de Balzac's Ursule Mirouet. Around the same time, they meet the Little Seamstress, a relatively well-off but uneducated girl whom Luo falls in love with. They set out to educate her using the novels.
Dai Sijie was re-educated in the 1970's due to his middle-class status, like the boys in the novel. In the mid-80's, he went France on a scholarship, and became a film director. Balzac, his first novel, was originally written in French, where it was a bestseller. Since then, it has been translated into around 25 languages, but is supposedly banned in China.