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Tun-Huang

Cover of Tun-Huang

Tun-Huang

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More than a thousand years ago, an extraordinary trove of early Buddhist sutras and other scriptures was secreted away in caves near the Silk Road city of Tun-huang. But who hid this magnificent treasure and why? In Tun-huang, the great modern Japanese novelist Yasushi Inoue tells the story of Chao Tsing-te, a young Chinese man whose accidental failure to take the all-important exam that will qualify him as a high government official leads to a chance encounter that draws him farther and farther into the wild and contested lands west of the Chinese Empire. Here he finds love, distinguishes himself in battle, and ultimately devotes himself to the strange task of depositing the scrolls in the caves where, many centuries later, they will be rediscovered. A book of magically vivid scenes, fierce passions, and astonishing adventures, Tun-huang is also a profound and stirring meditation on the mystery of history and the hidden presence of the past.

More than a thousand years ago, an extraordinary trove of early Buddhist sutras and other scriptures was secreted away in caves near the Silk Road city of Tun-huang. But who hid this magnificent treasure and why? In Tun-huang, the great modern Japanese novelist Yasushi Inoue tells the story of Chao Tsing-te, a young Chinese man whose accidental failure to take the all-important exam that will qualify him as a high government official leads to a chance encounter that draws him farther and farther into the wild and contested lands west of the Chinese Empire. Here he finds love, distinguishes himself in battle, and ultimately devotes himself to the strange task of depositing the scrolls in the caves where, many centuries later, they will be rediscovered. A book of magically vivid scenes, fierce passions, and astonishing adventures, Tun-huang is also a profound and stirring meditation on the mystery of history and the hidden presence of the past.

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About the Author-
  • Yasushi Inoue (1907--1991) was born on Hokkaidō, Japan's northernmost island, the eldest child of an army medical officer. After a youth devoted to poetry and judo, Inoue sat, unsuccessfully, for the entrance exam to the Kyushu Imperial University Medical School. He would go on to study philosophy and literature at Kyoto Imperial University, writing his thesis on Paul Valéry. In 1935, newly married and with an infant daughter, Inoue became an arts reporter for the Osaka edition of the Mainichi News. Following the Second World War, during which he briefly served in north China, he published two short novels, The Hunting Gun and The Bullfight (winner of the Akutagawa Prize for literature). In 1951 Inoue resigned from the newspaper and devoted himself to literature, becoming a best-selling and tremendously prolific author in multiple genres. Among his books translated into English are The Hunting Gun, The Roof Tile of Tempyō,and The Blue Wolf: A Novel of the Life of Chinggis Khan. In 1976 the emperor of Japan presented Inoue with the Order of Culture, the highest honor granted for artistic merit in Japan.

    Jean Oda Moy was born in Washington State and spent her early years in Seattle, moving to Japan shortly before the outbreak of World War II . She is also the translator of Yasushi Inoue'sChronicle of My Mother and Shirobamba: A Childhood In Old Japan.

    Damion Searls is the author of What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going and an award-winning translator, most recently of Rainer Maria Rilke's The Inner Sky: Poems, Notes, Dreams,Jon Fosse's Aliss at the Fire, and Hans Keilson's Comedy in a Minor Key. NYRB Classics has published his abridged edition of Henry David Thoreau's Journal and will publish his translations of the Dutch writer Nescio's short stories and André Gide's Marshlands.

Reviews-
  • Robert Payne, ASIA

    "A true historical imagination is exceedingly rare, and [Tun-huang] is a superb example of such an imagination at work."

  • Peter Handke "The unique thing about Inoue's work, for me . . . is that every story presents a vision, and that unlike the visions in books by other authors, I can always follow the vision as I'm reading, always believe it; Inoue has lived and felt these images and has the simplest and airiest language for them that I have ever seen. I don't need to first believe his illuminations, they are simply there in the book, as facts."
  • James Kirkup, The Independent "a work of superb historical imagination. . . "
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