Reading guide for Sky Burial by Xue Xinran

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Sky Burial

An Epic Love Story of Tibet

by Xue Xinran

Sky Burial
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2005, 220 pages
    Jul 2006, 224 pages

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

From Xinran, the bestselling author of The Good Women of China, comes Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet a deeply affecting tale about a woman's thirty-year search for her husband in the isolated, hauntingly beautiful land of Tibet.

Written with lyrical eloquence, Sky Burial is many things at once--a love story, a mystery and a tale of adventure. The following questions were written to help you and your reading group explore all the different themes of this fascinating tale.

Discussion Questions
  1. What is a 'Sky Burial'? How does this differ from the traditional Western burial methods?

  2. Sky Burial is set in Tibet. How did this story open your eyes to life in Tibet and how much did you know about this country before reading the book?

  3. Why did this Chinese woman --Shu-Wen, in her twenties--go to Tibet in 1958? Why were the Chinese at war with the Tibetans?

  4. Shu-Wen survived in Tibet for many, many years and began her journey with no knowledge of Tibetan language, customs, culture and religion? What does this say about her character? How do you think most people react to such a foreign environment?

  5. What surprised you about Shu-Wen's daily life in Tibet? How did these things differ from Shu-Wen's life in China? How do these things differ from your life?

  6. After finding out what happened to Kejun what do you think of his actions? Would you have made the same choice if faced with this situation?

  7. What changes did Shu-Wen find in her home town when she returned? How did she react to them? At that point, do you think Shu-Wen identified herself as Chinese or Tibetan?

  8. Did Shu-Wen regret going to Tibet? If so, why? What point did the author want to make through telling Shu-Wen's story?

  9. Some would call Sky Burial a love story? Would you agree?

  10. Sky Burial has been selected as a book used to study Chinese history in Australia and it has been published in over 20 languages. What makes this book different from other books on Tibet?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Anchor Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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