©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)
This is an excellent, fascinating story of one of the last dancers to come out of the Mao regime. His story was interesting to me on several levels. On the most basic level that almost anyone can enjoy is the unfolding of a cultural revolution in China while being emotionally involved in the story of a key player. A young boy is taken from his village (that had no power or running water!) to train in the old communist system to become one of the world's most celebrated dancers. Realizing that this man is not yet 50 and his ability to experience the cultural changes that have overtaken China within his lifetime is nothing short of mind boggling.
I have to say that I am perplexed at why they do not have an Asian narrating this story, or at least a reader with an Asian accent which would have made this much more authentic for me. The narrator was not bad and after reading the name of the title character in print, I was glad to let someone else do the pronunciations for me, but still...
Because I am a dancer/choreographer, the performer in me enjoyed the artistic exploration of the story. Ben Stevenson, the current artistic director of the DFW Ballet is a key person here and I have seen both him and his work several times, so that was an added level of interest.
While not the best literary work, it is a fascinating story and very credit worthy.
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.
This autobiography about Li Cunxin's life is much more than a story about an incredible ballet dancer. Life as a peasant under Mao and the propaganda about the Eastern world is simply unbelievable. You don't have to know anything about ballet or to even be interested in ballet to enjoy this beautiful story. It was simple yet powerful.
A nice biography for people who know nothing about China and like a good story that ends well.
- Overall a nice rags-to-riches, well-tied up story. You won't find many surprises here, but it will satisfy and is appropriate for kids - though kids younger than 10 or 11 might get lost.
- The political commentary and historical events seen through the eyes of the narrator, combined with the observations on American vs. Chinese cultures, are telling.
- First ~3 hours of the story is a summary of the narrator's childhood, which is uneventful for the most part except for some social commentary on the state of Chinese peasant life. For readers, happy childhoods are not typically interesting enough to warrant this much time. Fast forwarding through most of this will do you no harm in understanding the rest of the story.
- Story is riddled by instances of deus ex machina: The main character's major struggles are conveniently solved by hands of Providence (or in his case, the President of the United States - yawn) which reach down at the last minute to save him.
- Cliche ("scared out of my wits") phrases abound here. I seek new and fresh metaphors, so I'll admit a bias. This may not bother some readers/listeners.
- Main character, who is also the author, comes across as spoiled and pompous at times, which reduces his credibility and thus the reader's sympathy.
Good story, but not in my Top 10.
I'm sure the book is good, but I think it was a bit too slow for me. The entire Cultural Revolution can be an interesting topic, but just like how one can love or hate a particular high school class because of the teacher, one can like or dislike an audiobook from the reader. I'm not insulting him as an individual at all. The British accent while reading this didn't work for me in the first place and his pronunciation of the Mandarin words was off - a lot.
I'm sure the story is great, but it was moving just too slowly for me.
The narrator was good in his reading of the book, but he had the wrong accent. I kept forgetting the main character was Asian. He just didn't fit the book in this case.
Ah, I dearly enjoyed this book... For a native-born American like myself, this was a unique portrait into the life of a man whose youth was much more difficult than my own, from a culture that is diametrically opposed to many of the ideals central to the America that I know. And yet I can relate to his life's story; because from beginning to end, the strongest theme in Mao's Last Dancer is the importance of family. Initially, that drew me in-- and from there, Li Cunxin took me on a journey with him, across the world and through some of the most important historical events of the past century.
Paul English provides fantastic narration here. His accent may not be Chinese, but his emotions are true; and as any audiobook fan knows, if the reader gets that part right, we can fill in the rest. Bravo, sir.
I would also like to recommend scrambled eggs. When properly cooked, they are rich and delicious; and I can recommend them to almost anyone.
The story is astonishing! How pure hard work and a bit of luck bring someone from poverty to success. This is a very inspiring story.
The narrator makes a huge contribution to make this story funnier.
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