Melody



ISBN-10: 0099484927
Publisher: Vintage
Published: 2005
164pp
Translated by: Julia Lovell & Esther Tyldesley


First sentence: When I was five years old, I heard a snatch of conversation on a Beijing street that lodged in my mind and would not leave: 'The Tibetans cut his body into a thousand pieces and fed it to the vultures.'


In 1994, the author, Xinran travelled to Suzhou from Nanjing to interview Shu Wen after she received a call from one of her listeners at a nightly radio programme she presented. Piqued with curiosity, Xinran decided to interview Shu Wen, a Chinese woman who had spent years searching for her missing husband, Kejun, after she had learnt that he died in Tibet during his service as a doctor in the People's Liberation Army.

Just newly married for less than a hundred days, Shu Wen could not accept the news of his death and thus, she decided to leave her homeland to Tibet so that she could find an answer of her husband's disappearance since the Army could not provide any information regarding his cause of death. She was determined to join her husband's regiment and using her qualifications as a dermatologist, she managed to join the army as they were desperately short of doctors and many soldiers in Tibet were suffering from altitude sickness.

However, all the hardship she endured did not waver her determination in searching for her husband. There, she rescued a Tibetan woman named Zhuoma and was later separated from the army after they were ambushed by some Tibetan rebels. Left alone with no one except each other, Shu Wen and Zhuoman trekked on the vast landscape until they stumbled upon a nomad family who was kind enough to offer them their tents as shelter. The two women learnt a lot about each other during their stay with the Tibetan family; and the family treated them as members of their own as the time passed by. She then returned home only after she had found the answer she had been searching for during the years.

Sky Burial is a heartwrenching love story, filled with descriptive details of Tibetan history and culture. The story is so powerful and haunting that I was left speechless after reading this memoir in one sitting, for my mind was filled with vivid images of Shu Wen's drastic life as portrayed under Xinran's skilful writing. I have nothing but great admiration for Shu Wen's courage and determination, for who would think a woman of her age at that time would go to such extent to search her husband and stayed in Tibet for about thirty years?

After the end of this memoir, Xinran had written a short letter to Shu Wen, asking where she is and hoping that they would meet again as she still has a lot of questions to ask from her. I hope she managed to get in touch with Shu Wen.


Note: A BIG thank you to Marny of Traveling Bookworm for sending this book and a bookmark band to me.
14 Responses
  1. Debi Says:

    I read this book earlier this summer and I absolutely loved it, too! I imagine it will definitely be making my "top reads of the year" list. Beautiful review, Melody!


  2. Tammy Says:

    Sounds great. History & culture , with a great story - definitely on my TBR list now.


  3. Nymeth Says:

    I've heard nothing but wonders about this one. Thank you for the lovely review, Melody. This really sounds like a book I have to read.


  4. Ladytink_534 Says:

    Love the cover but the idea of the actual "sky burial" gives me the creeps. Sounds like a good story though.


  5. Melody Says:

    Debi - This book will be one of my top reads this year too! It's one unforgettable memoir, don't you think?

    Tammy - Thanks for visiting! :) I'm glad to hear you'll be adding this book to your list. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it.

    Nymeth - I really enjoyed reading it, though the story can be hard to read at times.

    Jen - I love the cover too! The acts of the sky burial does indeed sounds creepy, but if you read the book you'll know it's actually have to do with their religion.


  6. Wow. This sounds like a powerful book. I will definitely have to keep my eye out for it. Thank you for the great review, Melody.


  7. Melody Says:

    Wendy - It is, Wendy! The story still lingers in my mind...it is such a sad, haunting memoir. I'm hoping you'd read it soon.


  8. Kim L Says:

    Sounds like a really interesting read! Thanks for sharing.


  9. Melody Says:

    It was a great read, Kim. Emotionally charged too, I can say.


  10. Iliana Says:

    I don't think I've heard about this before - it sounds amazing really.
    Thank you for such a great review Melody. I'm adding this one to my list.


  11. Trish Says:

    I've been hearing such great things about this book lately! Funny how things kind of go in waves on the blogosphere. I didn't realize, though, that it was so short! Only 164 pages?!? Thanks for the review of this one--I'll have to bump it up on the list of books to find.


  12. Melody Says:

    Iliana - I'm hoping you'd get this book soon! :)

    Trish - Book bloggers are the best, don't you think? ;) It was a quick read; another reason is it's a page-turner!


  13. Rhinoa Says:

    Thanks for this Melody. I had read a couple of not so positive reviews and it was a joy to rad yours as I hope to read this before the end of the year.


  14. Melody Says:

    Rhinoa - I really enjoyed this book, although it isn't an easy read. I can't wait to read your thoughts... :)