A young woman hears the tale of a sacred text, written in an ancient language and inscribed on silk cloth many centuries ago. Puyi, the last emperor and owner of the relic, allegedly tore the silk in pieces with his teeth and threw it from a plane when he was taken by the Japanese to Manchuria. A search for this lost text and its poignant, devastatingly simple message begins...
This is a beguiling tale of fables, stories within stories, a young man's desperate search for his father's legacy and a young woman's search for the man she loved. Covering almost a century of China's history, this haunting novel combines mystery, harsh reality and tenderness with astonishing insight.
Dai Sijie is a wonderful storyteller... [It is] so well done, in such a swift and uncompromising way, that the reader and author and characters feel the simple astonishment of having survived ... the end of the tale is beautifully conclusive and satisfactory
This shy, complex novel, which speaks its concerns so quietly, remains a forceful lament, infused with incident and dramatic storytelling
It exercises a subtle and persuasive charm... Its evocation of the distant world of devoted Chinese scholarship and dying artistry is lovingly and enchantingly done
An elegant, polished, scholarly piece
Evokes the past with all the eerie clarity of a dream, its outlines blurred but every tiny, telling detail extraordinarily alive. Anyone in search of a brief history of China would do well to begin right here