Sendker, Jan-Philipp "The Art of Hearing Heartbeats" (German: Das Herzenhören) - 2002
Jan-Philip Sendker is a German journalist turned author who has written some fantastic books about his experiences as a correspondent in Asia. So far, I have read "Risse in der großen Mauer" (Cracks in the Great Wall), a non-fiction book about the China of today with all its problems in the modern world and "Das Flüstern der Schatten" (Whispering Shadows), a novel about a guy living in contemporary Hongkong. Both books are brilliant but haven't been translated into English, unfortunately.
Therefore, I was quite surprised that "Das Herzenhören" (The Art of Hearing Heartbeats) has been translated into English as well as its sequel "Herzenstimmen" (A Well-Tempered Heart). This is a fantastic chance for my foreign friends to get to know this wonderful author.
The plot of this story sounds easy. A Burmese man who has been living in the United States for ages, goes missing and his Burmese-American daughter follows a trail to Burma. But the background! There is so much in this story, mainly about cultural differences between East and West. I am not Asian, so I don't know how well he manages to stay close to their culture but I have read quite a few books both by Asians as well as Europeans/Americans who have lived there and I think he is doing a good job.
This book is about love, secrets, deceit, and hope. It tells us a beautiful love story. I really love the author's way of writing, his style is beautiful, his method of informing us about the East-West differences is unique. And he makes us think about the important things in life.
I just love his books.
From the back cover:
"A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present. When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains."