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.
Translated by Esther Tyldesley and Julia Lovell.
Her inscrutable eyes looked past me at the world outside the window--the crowded
street, the noisy traffic, the regimented lines of modern tower blocks. What
could she see there that held such interest? I tried to draw her attention back.
"How long were you in Tibet?"
"More than thirty years," she said softly.
"Thirty years! But why did you go there? For what?"
"For love," she answered simply, again looking far beyond me at the empty sky outside.
"My husband was a doctor in the People's Liberation Army. His unit was sent to Tibet. Two months later, I received notification that he had been lost in action. We had been married for less than a hundred days.
"I refused to accept that he was dead," she continued. "No one at the military headquarters could tell me anything about how he had died. The only thing I could think of was to go to Tibet myself and find ...
For eight groundbreaking years, Xinran presented a nightly radio programme in China called "Words on the Night Breeze", during which she invited women to call in and talk about themselves. Her first book, The Good Women of China, is the story of how she reached out to women across the country, despite the restrictions imposed on Chinese journalists. She reveals stories of inconceivable suffering; forced marriages, sexual abuse, repression...Yet above all her stories reveal how love survives; that despite cruelty, despite politics, the female urge to nurture and cherish remains - Sky Burial is a novelization of one of the stories she was told.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (577 words).
With an average elevation of 14-16,000 feet (sources differ), it's the highest nation on earth (by comparison, the highest mountain in the 48 contiguous states is Mt. Whitney at 14,494 feet)
Five of Asia's great rivers including the Indus, Mekong and Brahmaputra have their headwaters in Tibet.
Nearly half the world's population lives downstream from Tibet.
Tibet's unique ecosystem is home to many rare species including the snow leopard, blue ...
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