Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet by Xinran, translated by Esther Tyldesley and Julia Lovell + Author Interview
Here’s the story: two lovers, marriage, and cruel separation by war shortly thereafter. The husband dies mysteriously, but the wife remains skeptical and embarks on a search for answers that lasts three eventful decades. She doesn’t give up until she finally learns of her husband’s ultimate sacrifice in the name of preserving peace.
Making its Stateside debut this month, Xinran’s Sky Burial is a remarkable testament to love. For two days in 1994, Xinran listened to Shu Wen’s story, after which Shu Wen, like her lost husband, disappeared. Almost a decade later, Xinran shares that haunting odyssey.
Xinran is no stranger to remarkable, often heartbreaking women’s stories. In her native China, she was a renowned journalist who hosted the first radio show in China to give voice to the everyday, personal issues of women. When she moved to London in 1997, those stories eventually became her bestselling debut, The Good Women of China (2002). So important were these stories that Xinran fought off an assailant who attempted to grab her bag, which contained the only copy of the book’s original manuscript. While she admits today that “of course, life is more important than a book,” she vehemently recognized the need to preserve the stories of brave women who had been voiceless for far too long.
AsianWeek: The book ends with a touching letter addressed to Shu Wen. Do you have any updates on her whereabouts?
Xinran: I was told in Hamburg by a German journalist … that he had read on the Internet about a Chinese minister who met a Chinese woman who had been in Tibet for more than 30 years. I was so excited by this news that I contacted people in China immediately. Then I heard from a policeman about a Tibetan woman in Nantong, a small town near Shanghai, who went to Chengdu [the last Chinese city to which both Shu Wen and her husband traveled before entering Tibet] to search for news about her husband. So far, I haven’t heard anything [more]. By the descriptions, I feel that this Tibetan woman must be Shu Wen … [click here for more]
Author interview: “All in the Name of Love in Xinran’s ‘Sky Burial,’” AsianWeek, July 28, 2005 [This links to the issue cover – whoo hooo! Click here for full article.]
Published: 2005 (United States)