Mao's Last Dancer

  • by Li Cunxin
  • Narrated by Paul English
  • 8 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

One day, not so very many years ago, a small peasant boy was chosen to study ballet at the Beijing Dance Academy. His mother urged him to take this chance of a lifetime. But Li was only eleven years old and he was scared and lonely, pushed away from all that he had ever known and loved. He hated the strict training routines and the strange place he had been brought to. All he wanted to do was go home - to his mother, father, and six brothers, to his own small village. But soon Li realised that his mother was right. He had the chance to do something special with his life - and he never turned back.

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What the Critics Say

"Plucked from poverty, Li Cunxin was brought to Beijing to learn ballet. Later, after defecting, he became a principal dancer in both the Houston and the Australian Ballets, ultimately becoming world renowned. Paul English's crisp accents march precisely through Chinese pronunciations and the difficult stories of Li's early life in Quingdao. Occasionally, English pauses on emotional peaks, portraying, for example, Li's fear when his mother faints from hunger and his loneliness while adjusting to life at the dance school. Mostly, English's level narration allows listeners to imagine the contrasts of Li's life - his incomprehension of the wealth and freedom he sees while visiting the U.S. And, soon after, his struggle to attain them." (AudioFile Magazine)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Maos last Dancer

A moving story of a courageous young man and his family i have spent had to go to rural china his description transported me there. He describes the people i've been loving and kind which they are
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- Ms

Not only for young adults....

I discovered this book by accident among the special offers with which Audible tempts us! If you're likely to be put off by the fact that it's about ballet, please don't be. The book starts with a short introduction (very short) about China's later history and goes on not only to describe the author's early life of hardship but adds a wealth of information about superstition and general background.

I had not realised to what extent Mao was a god to the people and the well-being of the state paramount. I have never read anything which portrays this so well. Li's removal from his family to ballet school (very late by western standards) is touching and the discipline of the school makes it like a prison. Li's attitude to western people when he first meets them is fascinating....

So there's much more about Chinese life than about ballet, and it's very well read and goes along at a good pace.

I have been trying to get all my friends to read it and hope that you will, too!
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- barjil

Book Details

  • Release Date: 18-12-2012
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd