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Homework for Grown-ups Beth Coates. Small World David Lodge. The Barrytown Trilogy Roddy Doyle. About Xinran Xinran was born in Beijing in and was a successful journalist and radio presenter in China. In she moved to London, where she began work on her seminal book about Chinese women's lives, The Good Women of China.

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Since then she has written a regular column for the Guardian; appeared frequently on radio and TV and has published the acclaimed Sky Burial; the novel Miss Chopsticks; the groundbreaking book of oral history China Witness; a book of her Guardian columns called What the Chinese Don't Eat and Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother, about mothers and their lost daughters.

She lives in London but travels regularly to China. Book ratings by Goodreads. This book is unfortunately not much considered as a novel; it really reads more straightforwardly as non-fiction with some novelistic techniques tossed in.

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That said, it was still a fascinating read. The Li sisters, six of them, live in rural China -- which is why there are six of them.

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They are told by their father: Men, on the other hand, are the strong rafters that hold up the roof of a house. I enjoyed this book because of Xinran's obvious experience talking to peasant girls in China, those who have made their way to cities and as she says, moved from medieval peasant life to modern urban living in just those few miles.

Women's shifting places in the culture are shown on many societal levels. Sister Three is the brave one; all the sisters have internalized the view of their mother's worthlessness as a woman unable to bear a son. The oldest daughter has been married off, Two killed herself to avoid a marriage, and now it is Three's turn. She takes advantage of a visit from her uncle to flee the village with him back to the city of Nanjing. There she finds work in a restaurant due to her special talent of arranging vegetables attractively. City people - restricted to one child - cannot imagine how her parents have evaded the birth control policy.

But they take pity on the teenager, who has fled an arranged marriage, and use their connections to place her in a small restaurant arranging window displays of fresh seasonal vegetables - an attempt to take on the fast food giant KFC next door. Each of the sisters is discovered to have a talent that is put to good use in the city, fostering a self-respect not possible in their village.

Illiterate sister Five is found to have a "genius" for telling the temperature of water without the need for a thermometer at the upmarket bathhouse where she works.

Miss Chopsticks by Xinran | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

Bookworm Six is delighted to take a position in a teahouse that also serves up banned novels. Miss Chopsticks shows the power of a modern city to strip away rural prejudices and improve women's lives. Xinran also hints that the sisters represent something the city has lost - naturalness and an ancient knowledge of the seasons and environment.

But the chopstick girls never feel at ease in the city and are unable to forge deep friendships with its sophisticated natives.