Tun-huang by Yasushi Inoue / ISBN 9781590173626 / 240-page paperback from New York Review of Books Classics
Used copy, light shelfwear only.
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 Hsing-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.
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.