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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly haunting and unforgettable
If 'Sky Burial' was not a true story, I would have dismissed it as magical fable. Indeed, the story itself is amazing. It details a Chinese army doctor's (Shuwen) journey into Tibet in search of her husband, whom the army claims to be dead. Whilst in Tibet, she gets separated from her army unit together with a Tibetan 'princess' whom she saved from getting killed by...
Published on 23 July 2004 by M de Gracia

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hoped For A Bit More
Sky Burial is a short novel that follows along the life of a woman, Shu Wen, as she travels from China to Tibet in search of her husband. It is set in the late 1950's during the conflict between China's reform and Tibet's claim of independence. Shu Wen's husband, a doctor, is sent to Tibet during this time and is reported dead to Shu Wen's disbelief and there starts the...
Published on 17 July 2011 by CJuniperG


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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly haunting and unforgettable, 23 July 2004
This review is from: Sky Burial (Hardcover)
If 'Sky Burial' was not a true story, I would have dismissed it as magical fable. Indeed, the story itself is amazing. It details a Chinese army doctor's (Shuwen) journey into Tibet in search of her husband, whom the army claims to be dead. Whilst in Tibet, she gets separated from her army unit together with a Tibetan 'princess' whom she saved from getting killed by her fellow Chinese troops. They are taken in by a Nomad family where Shuwen slowly adjusts to the Tibetan way of life. After several years, Shuwen faces another loss as the Tibetan 'princess', who has helped to bridge the cultural gap between her and the Nomad family, is kidnapped. After several more years of experiencing and learning how to survive the harsh Tibetan terrain, she finally sets off to search for her husband. The story unravels with it haunting customs which are incomprehensible until when you reach the end of the book. I stayed up until 3.00am reading this book until the end, partly because I didn't want to get nightmares and partly because it was so moving. You will definitely need a box of tissues. Shuwen's story is amazingly haunting and unforgettable.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, astonishing, and remarkable., 2 Jan. 2006
By 
M. S. Bowden (Xiamen, China) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sky Burial (Paperback)
'Sky Burial' is an astounding and remarkable tale and follows hot on the heels of Xinran's first book 'The Good Women of China'. It is a story of love, adventure, loss, friendship, and belonging. It is a true emotional roller-coaster which will, I daresay, not fail to have a profound effect upon most readers.
Xinran wrote 'Sky Burial' after a two-day-long conversation with the subject of the story, Shu Wen. Wen left her home town of Suzhou, in the east of China, for Tibet in the mid-1950s in order to discover what had happened to her husband, Kejun, who had been sent there as a doctor in the People's Liberation Army. Wen travels to this vast, distant land as a brave but somewhat naive twenty-six year old Han Chinese woman and returns some three decades later a profoundly different person, having been transformed by time and circumstances into a Tibetan Buddhist nomad.
It is unsurprising, having read this book, that Xinran felt an intense desire to tell the world Shu Wen's story. Indeed, Shu Wen's story has, according to Xinran, been one of the three greatest lessons of her life. It will no doubt inspire many other readers with what one may interpet as its main message: that one should never lose hope.
The book is also interesting on a number of other levels. Firstly, it is a lesson on cultural exchange; what happens when is thrown into a culture completely alien to their own. The first section of the book explores how acts and beliefs which at first appear barbaric to Shu Wen come to make sense with the passage of time and when explained in their proper cultural context. Secondly, the story is interesting for the insight it provides into the life of Tibetan nomads in particular and Tibetan culture in general. Thirdly, the book sheds a different light on life in the People's Republic of China over the last thirty years in comparison with the works of other authors such as Jung Chang and Ma Jian.
'Sky Burial' is a stunning read, both for those with a deep-seated interest in Chinese and Tibetan culture and also for those who are inspired by tales of extraordinary compassion and humanity.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Tibet, 14 Sept. 2004
This review is from: Sky Burial (Hardcover)
This isn't usually the sort of book which would appeal to me. I bought this book primarily because i had read another book on Tibet recently which fascinated me and i wanted to know more. This book is interesting in that it tells the true story of a Chinese woman in Tibet, and gives the reader a real insight into Tibetan life from a Chinese perspective. Shu Wen enters Tibet in the 1950's in order to look for her young husband, an army doctor who she has been told died in an incident. She cannot imagine at this point that she will end up spending 30 years in Tibet searching for him. What i found refreshing is that it's not complicated to read and it steers clear of political arguments, in fact you don't even really need to know much Chinese or Tibetan history to get into the story as it is first and foremost a story about love, loss and the strength of the human spirit told on a very personal level. Shu Wen's story really is remarkable and the author Xinran has done a superb job in condensing her life story into such a short and engaging read, i think i would have struggled to read a thicker book on the subject purely because it has such hard lessons to relate to us and is quite emotionally draining. The ending left me needing to know more about Shu Wen and her return to China, and for this reason i hope that Xinran is able to catch up with her again and bring us a final instalment.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poetic, haunting and a fascinating insight, 21 Sept. 2005
By 
I. D. Miller "ian_miller6" (Solihull) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sky Burial (Paperback)
Following the 30 year hunt for her husband by a Chinese woman stranded in Tibet, the story not only paints a wonderful picture of a person driven by a single goal but also of the Tibettan nomad's way of life.
And it is a gripping, concise storyline as well, reflecting on the conflict between the two nations, the absorption of Tibet into China and the exile of the Dalia Lama. Most of which had minimal affect at the time on the nomadic people.
Amazingly it is also true. Like the author, I felt I really need to know what finally happened to the woman ShuWen.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hoped For A Bit More, 17 July 2011
Sky Burial is a short novel that follows along the life of a woman, Shu Wen, as she travels from China to Tibet in search of her husband. It is set in the late 1950's during the conflict between China's reform and Tibet's claim of independence. Shu Wen's husband, a doctor, is sent to Tibet during this time and is reported dead to Shu Wen's disbelief and there starts the tale of her journey across China into Tibet to find more details of what happened to him. The book is written by Xinran, also the author of The Good Woman of China, a Chinese journalist who meets Shu Wen decades later and after a 2 day meeting collects the information to write the book. The book is good enough, holds your attention and is an interesting take on the conflict in Tibet and China as you see the actual affect it has on the lives of people regardless of nationality. I thought that there could have been more information in the book considering it spans across decades and parts of Shu Wen's life in Tibet leaves you wanting more details on her character and the effects of growing older. Throughout the book you believe it is a true story but I found myself confused when I later looked at the front cover seeing the statement "This is a work of fiction" I suppose that much of it was left to the imagination of the writer after having had only 2 days to hear the story from Shu Wen? It is one of those details that you can't help but think a little sloppy especially of a book written by a journalist such as Xinran. All in all, a pretty good book, especially eye-opening if you have little or no knowledge of Tibet.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Going west into Tibet, 14 July 2005
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This review is from: Sky Burial (Paperback)
A different perspective on Tibet, seeing it from the perspective of someone in China who lives relatively close to Tibet but knows little about it.
Seeing the portions of Tibet you mostly don't hear about, the life of the nomads where two brothers can be married to the same women (rather like the Hindu epic Mahabharata, though the link is not made).
We see the perspective from someone without power or connections, moved by love in a very human drama. You have a fair indication from the begining how it will end, but you go on wondering. And getting an insight into a very alien world-view.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic love and heroic sacrifice, 2 Jun. 2008
By 
X. Zhang - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sky Burial (Paperback)
A truly amazing story of an army doctor's self sacrifice to the sky burial with respect of Tibetan religion, like a Buddha feeding himself to a hungry tiger, and the devoting pursuit by his wife in the vast and rugged Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, during the conflicts in 1958 between rebellious Tibetans and the central government in China. A eye-opening experience of Tibetan's nomadic life and their spiritual world. I finished the book without a single pause from mid night till 3:00am.

Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Inspirational, 31 Dec. 2004
This review is from: Sky Burial (Hardcover)
I bought this book after seeing it reviewed in a magazine. It is truly inspirational. After reading and watching documentaries about Tibet and its vastness I was amazed and touched to learn the story of Wen. It is amazing that if you seek something so much you will gain what you are looking for. The author Xinran's letter at the end of the book is so poignant and if you are looking for inspiration or for hope in your life..........then read this book.
Truly wonderful
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page turner, 25 July 2006
By 
Paul (Pillerton priors, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sky Burial (Paperback)
I read this book in a single session, better than the "Good women of China"

The imagery and explanation of Tibet was perfect (I could see/smell/feel life in the countryside). I truly cared about the people and really wanted to know what happened to them all.

The ending was also really clever (but I wondered about the open letter - was this artistic license?).

What was really interesting was the Chinese view of the "liberation" of Tibet - something which doesn't gel with the western view...

So good I gave it to my mother in law.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic, 23 Feb. 2008
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This review is from: Sky Burial (Paperback)
i just finished reading this for the second time (sky burial and good women of china are the only books i've ever had the desire to read more than once) and i love it. if lets us look in to a world so different from our own and have nothing but respect for the traditions.

and the hospitality! there's so much to learn.

well, if you've read it then you'll understand why i'm slightly speechless and not sure how to describe the book.

If you haven't read it then DO, YOU know you've nothing to loose in reading it but people who've read it know that whoever you are will be enlightened and touched by Shu Wens' story.
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Sky Burial
Sky Burial by Xinran (Paperback - 7 July 2005)
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