Many Chopsticks But No Roof-Beam

download-1.jpgThere were many things to like about Miss Chopsticks by Xue Xinran. First, the translators notes gave a good overview of the difficulties translating Chinese into English and also an  insight into the difficulties of spoken vs. written Chinese as well as the understandable differences in the Chinese language resulting from the wide geography of the country.

That’s all technical but it also reflects the second interesting theme in the novel: the lives of rural Chinese vs. those of people living in the larger cities and towns. Xinran’s narrative makes these differences very clear and the major theme of the narrative is how the three sisters overcome these differences and adapt to the challenges for growth in the city. They go from being only chopsticks, everyday tools that are easily replaceable to being just as strong and valuable as men and boys, easily capable of holding up a roof-beam.

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