Title: The Art of Hearing Heatbeats
Author: Jan-Philipp Sendker
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Other Press
Edition: KindleSource: purchase
Setting: NYC and Burma
Date Completed: 5/2012
Rating: 4.5/5Recommend: yes
After reading this novel it was hard to believe that the book was originally published in German in 2002. The translation was excellent as was the story.
Although Tin Win was born in Burma, his adult life was spent in New York City. A successful entertainment lawyer, he was married to a demanding American woman who enjoyed the life her husband's success offered; the couple had two grown children. After leaving for a business trip, which his family believed was to Boston, he disappears from their lives. His passport was later found near a Bangkok airport.
Four years later his daughter Julia, also a New York City lawyer finds an unsent love letter, written by her father in 1955, to a woman named MiMi who lived in Burma. Hoping to find her father or at least understand his past, Julia travels to Burma.
The story opens in a tea house located in a small town in Burma. Julia is greeted by a mysterious man named Uba who tells her that he has been expecting her. He claims to know her father, and asks her an odd question --- whether she believes in love? What happens next is that the reader is taken on an unforgettable journey by Uba to the humble and sad beginnings of her father Tin Win, a cast off raised by Buddhist monks.
Uba tells the story of Julia's father very slowly. She learns of her fathers disability and how he compensated for it by his acute sense of hearing -- listening to the heartbeats and voices of those around him. The reader also learns about the special crippled girl with the power of song and ability to heal who stole his heart.
Without saying much more, there is so much to this story that makes it memorable. Readers who can appreciate a story that is part fable, and also a story about the power of love -- a love capable of enduring nearly 50 years of separateness will enjoy this story. It's one of those stories that will stay with you.