Gypsi, June 5, 2010 (view all comments by Gypsi)
Sky Burial is based on a true story as it was told to the author, Xinran, by the principal character, Shu Wen. Wen's young idealist husband is an Army doctor in 1950's China, sent to Tibet during the time of China's "liberation" of Tibet. They had only been married three weeks when he left, and around 100 days after his departure she received a letter stating he was dead. The lack of explanation of death gave her a hope that perhaps he really wasn't dead, just lost, and she joined the Army as well, in her husband's unit. Herself a dermatologist, they were only too glad to of her request to be sent to Tibet--doctors were much needed on the front. Shortly after reaching Tibet, however, Wen is separated from her unit and spends the next thirty years wandering with a family of nomadic Tibetans, never giving up hope that she will find the answer to her husband's disappearance.
The writing is sparse and without a lot of descriptions, and whether it is intentional or because Xinran is in fact a journalist and not a novelist, it works wonderfully for both the untamed Tibetan landscape and the slowly unfolding, sometimes bleak but always beautiful, story.
The reader follows Wen, amazed at her tenacity as the years go by, at her unwillingness to give up against such odds. As she becomes more and more comfortable in her Tibetan ways, the reader sees Wen falling in love, unknowingly, with Tibet--and does the same, openly embracing this wild country. Like Wen, the reader can not give up hope, knowing there will be an answer to Wen's search, because such determination and love does not go unrewarded.
Subtitled "an epic love story of Tibet", Sky Burial is just that--a love story of a woman for a country as well as her husband; a love story of the reader for Tibet, for Wen, and for Xinran for giving such a gift.
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salsal, September 3, 2006 (view all comments by salsal)
Sky Burial is more than a love story. The story goes beyond the normal happy ending. The outcome does not seem to be important, it is the journey experienced along the way. Shu Wen choses to live her life in seach of her one true love but along the way discoveres things about herself that would've been supressed if she had chosen to live in modern day China instead of Tibet. The novel is designed to have readers emersed in another person's lifestyle and help them realise there is more to life than money and technology.
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Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet
0 stars -
Nan A. Talese -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Inspired by a brief 1994 interview with an aged Chinese woman named Shu Wen, Beijing-born, London-based journalist Xinran (The Good Women of China) offers a delicately wrought account of Wen's 30-year search for her husband in Tibet, where he disappeared in 1958. After less than 100 days of marriage, Wen's husband, Kejun, a doctor in the People's Liberation Army, is posted to Tibet and two months later is reported killed. Stunned and disbelieving, 26-year-old Wen is determined to find Kejun herself; a doctor also, she gets herself posted to the isolated Tibetan area where Kejun had been. There, as one of the few women in the Chinese army, she endures much hardship and rescues a Tibetan noblewoman named Zhuoma. After being separated from her fellow soldiers in the wake of an ambush by Tibetan rebels, Wen, accompanied by Zhuoma, sets off on a trek through the harsh landscape. Years later, after going native with a tribe of yak herders, Wen learns the circumstances of Kejun's death and understands that her husband was caught in a fatal misunderstanding between two vastly different cultures. Woven through with fascinating details of Tibetan culture and Buddhism, Xinran's story portrays a poignant, beautiful attempt at reconciliation. Agent, Toby Eady. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In 2002 Xinran's Good Women of China became an international bestseller, revealing startling new truths about Chinese life to the West. Now she returns with an epic story of love, friendship, courage and sacrifice set in Chinese-occupied Tibet.
Based on a true story, Xinran's extraordinary second book takes the reader right to the hidden heart of one of the world's most mysterious and inaccessible countries. In March 1958, Shu Wen learns that her husband, an idealistic army doctor, has died while serving in Tibet. Determined to find out what happened to him, she courageously sets off to join his regiment. But to her horror, instead of finding a Tibetan people happily welcoming their Chinese "liberators" as she expected, she walks into a bloody conflict, with the Chinese subject to terrifying attacks from Tibetan guerrillas. It seems that her husband may have died as a result of this clash of cultures, this disastrous misunderstanding. But before she can know his fate, she is taken hostage and embarks on a life-changing journey through the Tibetan countryside — a journey that will last twenty years and lead her to a deep appreciation of Tibet in all its beauty and brutality. Sadly, when she finally discovers the truth about her husband, she must carry her knowledge back to a China that, in her absence, has experienced the Cultural Revolution and changed beyond recognition. . .
The bestselling author of "Good Women of China" returns with an epic tale--based on a true story--of love, friendship, courage and sacrifice set in Chinese-occupied Tibet.
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