Kate's Reviews > The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
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's review
May 19, 2012

it was ok
Read from May 15 to 19, 2012

A sweet, sweet book. (Sweet is not my type.)

Our narrator, Julia, abruptly leaves a cushy, big firm job to travel to Burma in search of her father, who disappeared from NYC 4 years earlier. She never finds her dad. And yet, she does... In the form of his biography as recounted by a wise Tiresias-esque figure who magically appears on her first day in the village of Kalaw.

This novel's surprise ending is about as stealthy as a dump truck. To me, the book's best feature is its implicit comparison between eastern and western notions of elder respect, self determination, fate, and romance. I kind of wish I could put an excel spreadsheet here comparing the two. Did the Enlightenment forever condemn westerners like Julia -- like me? -- to live with the false and heavy burden of believing we control our destiny?

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