This week I read Mingmei Yip’s new novel, Song of the Silk Road (Kensington, 2011). When I read her previous novel, Petals from the Sky (Kensington, 2010), I was struck by how she combined rich descriptions of Chinese family life with the French art of the absurd.
In Song of the Silk Road, she doesn’t disappoint.
Early in the novel, we meet her protagonist, Lily Lin, a Hong Kong woman living in New York. Unlucky in love and in her writing career, Lily receives a mysterious letter from someone who claims to be her aunt. This aunt asks Lily to travel to China’s famed Silk Road to engage in a high-stakes scavenger hunt.
If Lily is successful, she’ll received 3 million dollars.
What follows is a dangerous and risqué trek from Beijing to Xian and beyond that to Turpan and Urumqi, and a remote Buddhist temple high among the clouds.
Lily gets mixed up in the world of stolen Chinese art, engages in a dangerous liaison with a Buddhist monk, and falls in love with an American 8 years her junior.
If you’re looking for a steamy summer read, I highly recommend Song of the Silk Road. You’ll forever view the word lotus in a different light.