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.
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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 - Guardian
This shy, complex novel, which speaks its concerns so quietly, remains a forceful lament, infused with incident and dramatic storytelling - The Daily Telegraph
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 - Scotsman
An elegant, polished, scholarly piece - The Times
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 - Financial Times
A rich and poetic novel - The Big Issue
Sijie has produced another cunning literary confection, blending history, romance, a long-lost manuscript and the magic of the Orient... Sijie can still draw readers into his elegant web - Mail on Sunday
Born in China in 1954, Dai Sijie is a film maker and novelist, who left China in 1984 for France where he now lives and works.. He is the author of the international bestseller, Balzac and the Chinese Seamstress (shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction prize), which he made into a film, and of Mr Muo's Travelling Couch (winner of the Prix Femina).