• "Dai Sijie is a wonderful storyteller... [It is] so well done, in such a swift and uncompromising way, that the reader and author and characters feel the simple astonishment of having survived ... the end of the tale is beautifully conclusive and satisfactory"

    A. S. Byatt, Guardian
  • "This shy, complex novel, which speaks its concerns so quietly, remains a forceful lament, infused with incident and dramatic storytelling"

    Julian Evans, The Daily Telegraph
  • "It exercises a subtle and persuasive charm... Its evocation of the distant world of devoted Chinese scholarship and dying artistry is lovingly and enchantingly done"

    Alan Massie, Scotsman
  • "An elegant, polished, scholarly piece"

    Kate Saunders, The Times
  • "Evokes the past with all the eerie clarity of a dream, its outlines blurred but every tiny, telling detail extraordinarily alive. Anyone in search of a brief history of China would do well to begin right here"

    Margaret Hillenbrand, Financial Times