©2003 Li Cunxin; (P)2004 Bolinda Publishing Pyt Ltd by arrangement with Penguin Group (Australia)
"[A] heartening rags-to-riches story." (Publishers Weekly)
"[Paul English] exercises such an intense and masterful concentration on the text that the listener's interest never flags....He imbues the narrative with ingenuousness and enthusiasm, which endearingly befit the image Li is attempting to present of himself. The result is an audiobook that is superior to its source." (AudioFile)
I first passed up this gem because I had no interest in dance much less the world of ballet. What a mistake that was. Li Cunxin takes you into the fascinating lives of peasants in rural socialist China under Mao and his struggles to find his way in a dangerous and changing world. His story is unique, totally engaging and extraordinary. This autobiography is far from simple rags-to-riches success story. His style is down-to-earth and crafted with artistry. The book is beautifully narrated and I remained totally engaged from beginning to end.
As someone who is neither a dancer nor well educated about life in China during the Cultural Revolution, the information in this book was out of my usual interest zone, and I am so glad that the Audible blurb caught my attention and lured me in! This is a fascinating book, and despite its length it captured my attention throughout. I kept having to remind myself that Li Cunxin is slightly younger than I am, although the experiences of his childhood and youth sound as though they must have occured a century before. Compared to the freedom and comfort of average American life in the past four decades, Li's life was grim. However, his attitude, determination, and family support are all the more inspring because of how much he had to overcome. I highly recommend this book. While the narrator's voice is wonderful, I would have preferred an Asian narrator, because the British accent at times became overwhelming. I am a visual listener, and I had trouble visualizing a young Chinese male when listening to this narrator. Other than that, I have no reservations about this book. I just wish I could have the opportunity to see Li dance!
As a Chinese American born in Taiwan, I can relate to the Chinese custom and tradition in the story. But I was struck by the poverty living in the Communist China in that era.
The story was truly inspirational. It taught us that determination combined with hard work paves the way to greatness. And yet Li's deeply-rooted Chinese family values and love for his family still came through all along. This is the "hero's journey" at its best.
The narration was excellent. At times, I thought there were several people speaking for each role. The British/Australian accent didn't take much time to get used to and the pronunciation of Chinese names were pretty good.
This is among one of the best memoirs I have listened to.
My friends couldn't understand why I would liked a book so much about a Chinese ballet dancer. This is the ultimate rags to riches story. The narration was superb. This is one of my favorite books.
Having been to China during the time period covered in this book, and more recently - this book seemed very "on point" to me. I enjoyed the pure wonder that the main character - a newcomer to the "west" - experienced in America and would highly recommend this to anyone wishing to take a look behind the "bamboo curtain". Very, very interesting and insightful read.
This books was nothing of what I expected. I laughed, I cried, I cheered and held my breath. I was caught up into the story until I felt apart of the family. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It inspired me to push myself as a person and opened my eyes to China of the early 1900's. I consider this a must listen.
This is the most beautiful book. The Narrator is so good and the book is fantastic. The words come alive. You can feel the damp chilly dance studio, taste the dumplings and feel the cold wind on your face.
I love the richness of this book and the insight into life in Mao's China. This is a MUST Listen in my book. Do not pass it by.
Thoroughly enjoyable! The first part relating Cunxin's childhood especially touched me in the way it revealed the love, humour and even small moments of happiness possible in such a desperate situation. I have to agree with other comments that an asian narrator probably would have sounded more authentic, but Paul English did a wonderful job none the less. If you have seen the movie and think you know the story, think again! The book is definately worth the listen, as the movie probably only contained 10-15% of the original story (as most movies often do, understandably because of time restraints) and most of my favourite parts weren't there! Get the book - You wont regret it!
I'm a twenty-something lit nerd who enjoys Romance, Fantasy and YA Fiction. I like strong female heroes and entertaining readers.
Mao's Last Dancer is an audiobook that I've come back to over and over again. Listening to Cunxin's story of hard work and dedication leading to a life of freedom and fame is absorbing and uplifting. This is the tale of a man who has had to overcome many obstacles. He makes me grateful for my life. I'll never look at a yam the same way again.
Anyone who enjoys interesting biographies will enjoy this book. His descriptions help the listener to feel the breaks and pains of learning to dance and the heartbreak he endures brought tears to my eyes. Please, give this one a try for those days when you think your life is too hard.
I enjoy mysteries, NOT thrillers, contemporary fiction, especially about diverse cultures, and sometimes history, if it doesn't involve too many dates. I often listen to a book multiple times, discovering unnoticed details in the retelling.
Thank you, Li, for setting down your story for us. With doors and windows to China closed to the west for so long, many of us have wished to understand about the changes which took place for people in China. I appreciate your honesty, and how your story is presented. This will become a classic story, suitable for all ages. Your children, family, and each of those who assisted throughout your life can be proud of this wonderful recounting. I, too, would enjoy the tale narrated by an oriental reader, hopefully, someday soon that will also be available.
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