Sky Burial by Xinran (Julia Lovell, Esther Tyldesley (Trans) - review by Jonathan Mirsky

Jonathan Mirsky

Death In Tibet

Sky Burial

By

Chatto & Windus 164pp £14.99 order from our bookshop
 

IN JULY 2002 I wrote in the LR, 'According to a Chinese saying, "There is a book in every family that is best not read aloud." Never has this been as plain to me as in The Good Women of China. Limpidly translated, with never an awkward phrase. these are the most eloquent and painful stories’ of chinese women I have read (and the literature is large).' That excellent book was by Xinran. The author, who now lives in London, is probably still famous in China for her radio programmes, during which women confided to her intimate and shocking stories about their lives. Those were the stories in The Good Women of China.

I was eager, therefore, to read Sky Burial. But I was disappointed. The story, while gripping enough, is based on the recollections of an elderly woman who confided in Xinran in 1994. Some of the events described were already decades old. Xinran had meetings with the woman over two days,

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