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Tun-Huang, in Central Asia, is a walled city along the Silk Road that historically connected China to the West. It is also the site of the Thousand Buddha cave where, in the early 1900s, Sir Aurel Stein discovered an extraordinary treasure trove of early Buddhist sutras and other scriptures. In Tun-Huang the novel, the great modern Japanese novelist Yasushi Inoue imagines how the scriptures came to be hidden in the caves. Set in the eleventh century CE, this is the story of Chao Tsing-te, a young Chinese man whose accidental failure to take the test that would have qualified him for a career as a government bureaucrat leads to a chance encounter that takes him farther and farther into the wild and contested lands west of the Chinese Empire. There he finds love, distinguishes himself in battle, and finally devotes himself to the strange task that led to the rediscovery of the scriptures so many centuries later. A book of magically vivid scenes, fierce passions, and astonishing adventures to equal Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Tun-Huang is also a profound and stirring meditation on the mystery of history and the hidden presence of the past.
“A true historical imagination is exceedingly rare, and [Tun-Huang] is a superb example of such an imagination at work.” –Robert Payne, Asia
“Historical reconstruction of a very personal and special kind.” –Donald Richie
“A work of superb historical imagination, Tun-Huang, in which he recreates eleventh-century China and the great collection of Buddhist treasures concealed in the Tun-Huang caves.” –James Kirkup, The Independent
“One of the most respected novelists in Japan.” –The New York Times