I’m not going to lie; I picked up Sky Burial solely because the author, Xinran, has a last name beginning with an ‘X’. I need an ‘X’ author to finish off the A to Z Challenge, and once I realized Gao Xingjian’s Soul Mountain wasn’t going to work because his name properly arranged for English is Xingjian Gao, I turned to the only ‘X’ author my library had on hand — Xinran.
It’s not often, though, that I’m able to find a book for a challenge that I wind up enjoying. Usually I’ll slog through a book solely to get that letter fulfilled, but Sky Burial wasn’t like that. It’s captivating, emotional, and a fast read. Despite a few choppy paragraphs here and here, readers are ale to blow through thirty years of Tibetan history and culture without even realizing it, just like Wen lives with Gale and family without even realizing that time is slipping through her fingers.
In the beginning of the novel, Xinran says Sky Burial is the true story of Shu Wen, whom she met in China as a journalist in 1994, and Wen’s attempt to find her presumed dead husband in Tibet. However, I don’t know if it’s the fact that it’s placed in the fiction section of my library or that the whole thing sounds like the stuff of legends, but it’s has this aura about it that makes it feel a bit unbelievable. Xinran also never saw the woman after her two-day interview, so the book offers no closer.
For some reason, though, it made me feel really calm. Like I had just come back from a massage or finished a large project. And I loved the exploration of old-age Tibetan culture through a family’s lack of exposure to the world around them despite a war, despite a Chinese woman living with them.
- Xinran. Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet. Translated from the Chinese by Esther Tyldesley and Julia Lovell. New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2005. Print. 203 pgs. ISBN: 9780385515481. Source: PaperBackSwap.