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About the Author

Alessandro Baricco was born in Turin in 1958. He is the author of two previous novels, Castelli di rabbia, which won the Prix M dicis in France and the Selezione Campiello prize in Italy, and Ocean-Sea, which won the Viareggio and Palazzo del Bosco prizes. He has also written essays in the field of musicology. Silk became an immediate bestseller in Italy and has been translated into twenty-seven languages.


Baricco, the author of two prize-winning novels, spins an enchanting novella as delicate as the silk that fills the story. In the 1860s, Herve Joncour makes four difficult journeys from France to Japan to obtain eggs for breeding silkworms. Japan is closed to the world, but he manages to negotiate with a local baron to obtain the eggs. While there, he notices a young woman who does not have oriental eyes. Though they never address each other, they conduct a secret affair. The story, told exquisitely and very well translated, conveys the richness, delicacy, and mystery of the book's sought-after fabric. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.‘Ann Irvine, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Md.

In 1861, after plague has destroyed the silkworms in the Middle East and Africa, French merchant Hervé Joncour travels to Japan‘a country of which little is known to the French‘in search of healthier, better silk. Flouting a Japanese law against exporting silkworms, Joncour leaves his loving wife for what will be the first of many four-month journeys through Europe, Russia and Siberia to Japan, where he befriends a wealthy Japanese trader and falls in love with his beautiful young mistress. With each trip, Joncour's expectations of closer contact with the young woman escalate, as does the danger of his journey. Joncour finally receives a letter from the concubine, which he must take for translation to a Japanese woman living in a neighboring French village The letter encourages Joncour to travel to Japan one last time; what he finds there will change his life forever. Baricco, winner of the Prix Medicis and other awards for his two previous novels, uses the precise, formal language of the 19th-century realists to evoke exotic settings, vivid characters and historical details. Written in 65 spare chapters (some less than a page long, some evolving into verse), Barrico's fairy tale of East and West weaves a fine, tight fabric of recurrent phrases and motifs, a novel as delicate and strong as its subject. (Oct.) FYI: Silk, a bestseller in Italy and in the U.K., will be published in 16 languages, including Japanese.

"Silk has the brilliant colors . . . and the enchantment of a miniature. . . . Vividly erotic." --Newsday"A riveting, lyrical love story, an accomplished historical fiction, a compact, condensed . . . epic about human hearts in crisis." --Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered"A book with language to savor. . . . It seems as guileless as a folk tale but propels a reader with real force." --Denver Post"A heart-breaking love story. . . A stylistic tour de force [and] a literary gem of bewitching power." --The Sunday Times

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