Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sky Burial by Xinran

I have earned the greatest prize that can be attained in a reading challenge: a wonderful book that I would have otherwise never read! I was worried about "X" in the A to Z challenge, and, after browsing the end-of-the-alphabet authors, I found this beautiful book with a promising story:

"It was 1994 when Xinran, a journalist and the author of The Good Women of China, received a telephone call asking her to travel four hours to meet an oddly dressed woman who had just crossed the border from Tibet into China. Xinran made the trip and met the woman, called Shu Wen, who recounted the story of her thirty-year odyssey in the vast landscape of Tibet.

Shu Wen and her husband had been married for only a few months in the 1950s when he joined the Chinese army and was sent to Tibet for the purpose of unification of the two countries. Shortly after he left she was notified that he had been killed, although no details were given. Determined to find the truth, Shu Wen joined a militia unit going to the Tibetan north, where she soon was separated from the regiment. Without supplies and knowledge of the language, she wandered, trying to find her way until, on the brink of death, she was rescued by a family of nomads
under whose protection she moved from place to place with the seasons and eventually came to discover the details of her husband’s death.
In the haunting Sky Burial, Xinran has recreated Shu Wen’s journey, writing beautifully and simply of the silence and the emptiness in which Shu Wen was enveloped. The book is an extraordinary portrait of a woman and a land, each at the mercy of fate and politics. It is an unforgettable, ultimately uplifting tale of love loss, loyalty, and survival." (from the book cover)

The writing is very succinct, and allows the power of the story to tell itself. The customs and rituals of Tibet were interesting, and Shu Wen's story is heartbreaking but uplifting. I loved it!


  1. This one sounds incredible. I worked for several years with a woman from Tibet and loved to listen to her stories when we could get her talking, which wasn't very often.
    Just written Sky Burial down on my list of must gets...

  2. Did you get it at the library? I am intrigued.

  3. Yes, it's from the library. I'll be returning it soon, if you have a chance to check it out!

  4. This sounds like a great one for my X as well. Great review. BTW, I love the format of your blog with the stars - very cute.

  5. I found this in a book shop a few days ago and thought I would save it for my X author too. It looks like it was a good choice from reading your review :)

  6. I added this book several months back for my X author too. I look forward to reading it.

    I enjoyed your "About Me" section a lot as I am not a college graduate either and have been known to use punctuation creatively too. I try to get it right...but you know how it goes!
    Happy reading!

    Amy(The Sleepy Reader)