Book to read.

Dai Sijie, registra e scrittore cinese emigrato in Francia, è l’autore del famoso e sdolcinato Balzac e la Petite Tailleuse chinoise (in italiano Balzac e la piccola sarta cinese, pubblicato da Adelphi). Più interessante sembra essere il suo nuovo libro, Once on a Moonless Night, che narra la storia di una studentessa francese, che va alla scoperta di un antico testo sascro scritto in una lingua estinta. Il libro viene recensito oggi da A.S. Byatt nel Guardian:

The lost language is Tumchooq, related to Sanskrit. The word means “bird beak”, and describes the shape of the tiny kingdom where it originated, buried by a sandstorm in AD817. The narrator discovers a French scholar, Paul d’Ampère, author of Notes on Marco Polo’s Book of the Wonders of the World, who deciphered Tumchooq, and took Chinese nationality to be able to pursue his work. She also discovers a young vegetable seller, with red hairs among the black, whose name is Tumchooq, with whom she falls in love. Tumchooq – a resourceful and stoical person – turns out to be the son of Paul d’Ampère, who is now in a remote communist prison camp in the mountains, working in a gem mine in appalling conditions. Each time the son visits, the father teaches him a few words more of Tumchooq. The father also converses with a disgraced scholar in Tumchooq, playing a kind of imaginary linguistic chess.

The tale opens with the narrator doing her first paid translation work, on the film of Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor. She is beset by hundreds of small Chinese children, all carrying violin cases, who have come from the remotest parts of China to see Yehudi Menuhin. He is there for one day, choosing a musical scholar to take to the west. When she meets Tumchooq he teaches her to love raw vegetables – Sijie writes wonderful descriptions of shapes and textures and tastes. But the vagaries of Chinese planned agriculture mean that there can be a dearth of cabbages for weeks, and then the street will be rolling with a plethora of them, which have to be left to rot. There is always a sense of the pressure of numbers of people and things, which seems to provoke in the characters a ferocious determination to be individuals, to make their own fates, single-mindedly.

Il resto della recensione è qui.

Postato da: IM

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