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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 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.
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’s Chronicle of My Mother and Shirobamba: A Childhood In Old Japan.
Damion Searls is a translator from German, French, Norwegian, and Dutch and a writer in English. His own books include What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going, The Inkblots, and The Philosophy of Translation. He received the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize in 2019 for Uwe Johnson's Anniversaries.
“A true historical imagination is exceedingly rare, and [Tun-huang] is a superb example of such an imagination at work.” —Robert Payne, ASIA
“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 believe his illuminations, they are simply there in the book, as facts.” —Peter Handke
“a work of superb historical imagination. . . ” —James Kirkup, The Independent
“Early in the 20th century an incredible hoard of Buddhist sutras and other manuscripts was discovered by itinerant monk in Tun-huang. Archaeologists recovered thousands of documents that have been concealed in the Thousand Buddha Caves for 900 years. The author…speculated on the reasons for the hiding of such treasures, and this fascinating and exotic novel is the result.” —Publishers Weekly
“Historical reconstruction of a very personal and special kind.” —Donald Richie
“An enthralling tale.” —Oriental Economist
“A unique writer who has managed to escape the often narrow topical bounds of the Japanese novel.” —Japan Quarterly
"One of Japan's most prolific and respected authors..." —Japan Economic Newswire
“The descriptive passages in Yasushi Inoue's ‘Under the Shadow of Mount Bandai’ are worthy of the longer passages of an Anne Radcliff Gothic tale" —The Japan Times
''One of the most respected novelists in Japan.'' —The New York Times