Synopses & Reviews
They were young, brilliant, and bold. They set out to conquer the world. But the world had other plans for them.
Bestselling author Susan Jane Gilman's new memoir is a hilarious and harrowing journey, a modern heart of darkness filled with Communist operatives, backpackers, and pancakes.
In 1986, fresh out of college, Gilman and her friend Claire yearned to do something daring and original that did not involve getting a job. Inspired by a place mat at the International House of Pancakes, they decided to embark on an ambitious trip around the globe, starting in the People's Republic of China. At that point, China had been open to independent travelers for roughly ten minutes.
Armed only with the collected works of Nietzsche, an astrological love guide, and an arsenal of bravado, the two friends plunged into the dusty streets of Shanghai. Unsurprisingly, they quickly found themselves in over their heads. As they ventured off the map deep into Chinese territory, they were stripped of everything familiar and forced to confront their limitations amid culture shock and government surveillance. What began as a journey full of humor, eroticism, and enlightenment grew increasingly sinister-becoming a real-life international thriller that transformed them forever.
Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven is a flat-out page-turner, an astonishing true story of hubris and redemption told with Gilman's trademark compassion, lyricism, and wit.
On UNDRESS ME IN THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN:
"[A] standout travel memoir...Gilman's descriptions of their trials and tribulations crackle with wit."--Booklist
"Youthfully upbeat, Gilman delivers an entertaining memoir...offering the full wallop of disorienting, in-the-moment, transformative travel adventures."--Publishers Weekly
"[An] ambitious and intimate coming-of-age memoir."--Kirkus
"With her trademark intelligent, irreverent voice Gilman takes us on a journey that feels terrifyingly real, immediate and life-threatening. The woman is no less than a godsend to a reading world that has become too used to lies, half-truth and spin."--Alexandra Fuller
"This is riveting stuff . . . unputdownable."
--O, The Oprah Magazine
In 1986, Susan Jane Gilman and a classmate embarked on a bold trek around the globe starting in the People's Republic of China. At that point, China had been open to independent backpackers for roughly ten minutes. Armed only with the collected works of Nietzsche and Linda Goodman's Love Signs, the two friends plunged into the dusty streets of Shanghai. Unsurprisingly, they quickly found themselves in over their heads--hungry, disoriented, stripped of everything familiar, and under constant government surveillance. Soon, they began to unravel--one physically, the other psychologically. As their journey became increasingly harrowing, they found themselves facing crises that Susan didn't think they'd survive. But by summoning strengths she never knew she had--and with help from unexpected friends--the two travelers found their way out of a Chinese heart of darkness.
UNDRESS ME IN THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN is a flat-out page-turner, an astonishing true story of naïveté, friendship, and redemption told with Susan's trademark compassion and humor.
Bestselling author Gilman's new memoir is a hilarious and harrowing journey, a modern heart of darkness filled with Communist operatives, backpackers, and pancakes. A flat-out page-turner, this is an astonishing true story of hubris and redemption.
About the Author
Susan Jane Gilman is the author of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress and Kiss My Tiara. She has written commentary for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Ms. magazine, among others, and her fiction and essays have received several literary awards. Though she has lived most recently in Geneva, Switzerland, and Washington, D.C., she remains, eternally, a child of New York.