An Epic Love Story of Tibet
Nan A. Talese, Hardcover, 9780385515481, 224pp.
Publication Date: July 19, 2005
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.
Xinran is the author of The Good Women of China, a seminal work about the lives of Chinese women. She was born in Beijing in 1958, and by the late 1980s had become one of China's most successful journalists. In 1997 she moved to London, where she currently writes a regular column in the Guardian.
“I read Sky Burial in one sitting, not being able to wait to get to the end of the tale. I’ve read love stories before, but none like this. One could only wish to be loved so, or, even better, to love so.”—Da Chen
“A romantic epic of loss and redemption, of stoic constancy in the face of the vagaries of fate.” —Financial Times
“Part family story, part mystical adventure. It’s like Wild Swans crossed with Seven Years in Tibet —Giles Foden, The Guardian
“This story of one extraordinary woman written by another extraordinary woman will stay with you long after closing the book.” —Sunday Times