Willem van den Oever's Reviews > Zijde

Zijde by Alessandro Baricco
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Nov 26, 11

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bookshelves: in-dutch, short-stories, history, romance, japan
Read on October 30, 2011

France, 1861. We are introduced to Hervé Joncour, who’s business it is to buy and sell silkworms for the growing silk industry in his village. After a mysterious decease wipes out the stock of larvae imported from Africa and the Middle East, Jancour is forced to find a new supply from elsewhere.

Thus begins ‘Silk’, by Italian writer Alessandro Baricco. Through short chapters, we are moved through a story that swoops and swerves, like the treat in a piece of silk, backwards and forwards through time and space.
Suggested by the local silk baron, Joncour is told Japan is slowly opening for international trade and agrees to travel to the end of the world to find out if Japan’s silk is as fine as legend tells it to be.

Through repetition and specific descriptions, Baricco creates themes easily recognizable for any reader, without losing depth in his words and stories. Rather, ‘Silk’ turns out to be as exquisite as the material it talks about; a soft, wonderful story filled with bewilderment and drama, a wonderful cast of characters, an eyeopening journey and the desire of a young Frenchman who had to travel across the globe to discover a woman who steals his heart.

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