Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats; Jan-Philipp Sendker

Author:  Jan-Philipp Sendker
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Other Press
Edition: Kindle
Source: purchase
Setting: NYC and Burma
Date Completed: 5/2012
Rating: 4.5/5
Recommend: 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.


  1. I don't always like fables, but you've made me want to pick this up.

  2. I had a hard time with this one because of it being a fable. It was interesting to read your take on it because it makes me think about what exactly didn't work for me.

  3. Fables are difficult for me to comprehend and more importantly accept so I doubt this one is for me.

  4. I don't knowmif I have raad any fables but it sounds interesting!

  5. This sounds wonderful Diane! I always love a book that will stick with you for a long time after you've finished it.

  6. I have this one on audio, and I can't wait to get to it! It sounds like something that I would really like, and I am glad that you found it ensnaring. I have had my fill of forgettable books, and am in the mood to read things that stay with me. Fantastic review!

  7. This does sound unusual and intriguing. Wonderful and concise review, Diane!

  8. This book sounds fascinating and beautiful, Julia sounds like a captivating character with an open mind and heart. I'd interested in discovering what happened to her father.

    Great review Diane!

  9. You've made this one sound really good to me!

  10. this one sounds very interesting and I like that the book takes place in Burma. I'm amazed that it took so long to get translated and brought to US readers!

  11. I have this book on my shelf and can't wait to get to it. Thanks for the great review!

  12. Sometimes I feel like I'm reading about the same books over and over on the blogs I follow so it's always such a pleasant surprise to find something new that sounds so great. I'm a big fan of reading books from non-US authors - it gives a whole new perspective on people.

  13. I love the sound of this one. Thank you for letting me know about it.


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