Lily Lin is an impoverished waitress and wanna-be novelist living in a cramped apartment in New York city and having an affair with her former creative writing professor when she receives a mysterious letter, purporting to be from an aunt she didn’t know existed and offering her 3 million dollars to complete a few simple tasks—travel China’s Silk Road, visit a blind fortune-teller and tell him nothing but lies, seduce a monk and sleep with him in a certain position, find a flower that grows only in ice crevasses at the top of the Mountains of Heaven.
Lily fancies herself an adventurer, and with an advance check for $50,000 in her pocket, she’s ready to go. She sets off to complete the tasks, along the way picking up a younger lover, Alex. He’s 21 and she’s 29, and that’s enough of an age difference to matter to her although not to him. He’s puppy-dog in love and devoted practically from the minute he lays eyes on her, and he provides a nice counter-point to her experiences throughout the book as she tries to decide how serious he really is and how serious she wants him to be.
As I read Song of the Silk Road, I found myself picturing a brush making the bold marks of Chinese characters, ink soaking into paper. The style of prose is bold and quick, and there isn’t a lot of subtlety. Although it’s touted as a voyage of self-discovery and at the end Lily herself learns a previously-hidden truth about her family (which, to be honest, I saw coming), in many ways Lily herself is a picaresque character, experiencing and feeling emotions in various situations, but emerging essentially the same at the end. Lily is a sensual character, describing various sexual encounters in great detail and making the reader see the beauty of mountain lakes, or feel the hot wind of the desert, or be hungry for the various feasts that show up throughout the book.
There is a strong theme of family running throughout the novel, introducing themes of identity and loss, and different ways that loss is dealt with (after death, through adoption, in visions, etc). There is also a strong mystical theme. Buddist monks, fortune tellers, visions, the concepts of yin and yang, sexual qi—all run strong threads throughout the story.
I’m pleased to announce that one of you can travel with Lily to her adventures on the Silk Road. Leave a comment below and enter to win a free copy. We’ll announce the winner on 4/27.This Giveaway is Closed.
Elizabeth can attest to knowing what a hot desert wind feels like and would love to earn $3 million dollars for traveling. Read more of her adventures at her blog Planet Nomad.
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This books sounds great. I will have to keep an eye out for it to come in to my local library.
I think I would really like this one…thanks for the review and the giveaway. Happy spring!
Sounds like a great read! The review is super. If I don’t win, I’ll also be checking it out at the library and possibly recommending for book club.
Sounds like a great read!
Ms. Dawn says
I love books like this! Thank-you for the opportunity to win.
nowakoski at sbc global dot net
Looks like another good read-thanks for bringing it to my attention.
Some Lucky Dog says
This one sounds interesting, thanks for offering a chance to win a copy!
someluckydog at gmail dot com
Beth C says
Sounds like a good book!
Ruthie B says
I would love to read this one! Thanks for the chance!
Mozi Esmes Mom says
janemaritz at yahoo dot com
would enjoy reading this novel…thanks for the chance =)
I’d love to have $$ for traveling and then get paid for it in the end! 🙂 Not sure I’d be willing to do all the things she was asked to do though!
You won the book! Please reply to this email notification with your shipping info.
Karen Gonyea says
Sounds great 🙂
I just read a sample from the book and I’m intrigued.
Anita Yancey says
Sounds like a very interesting book. Would enjoy reading it.
Brianna Beers says
Id love to read this. Its seems almost like a mystery that she recieved a letter from an aunt she did know existed. I would deffinetly accept the money to travel, sounds like a dream to me! Id love to find out what she encounters along the way.
briannabeers at yahoo dot com
Naomi Wittlin says
Sounds really good. Yes please!