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Silk Paperback – August 28, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (August 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307277976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307277978
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

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.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“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

Customer Reviews

It is an achingly beautiful love story.
ladybird
This is more than a book, it is a soft touch which tells you the beautiful story of nostalgia for a love that can never be lived.
Irina Iacobescu
Baricco uses few words to great effect; the result is a prose so distilled as to be poetic.
Lefay

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 82 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Silk, by Alessandro Baricco, is the story of Hervé Joncour, a French silk breeder living in the small town of Lavilledieu. In 1861, when epidemics were striking the hatcheries of Europe, Joncour began to travel to Syria and Egypt to acquire healthy eggs for the town. When his friend, Baldabiou tells his of the extraordinary silk produced in Japan, Joncour embarks on the first of four journeys to what then was determined to be "the end of the world." Traveling by train, horseback, and ship, Joncour always takes the same route and always deals with an enigmatic man named Hara Kei, "the most elusive man in Japan, master of all that the world contrived to carry off the island." But more important to Joncour than Hara Kei is Hara Kei's concubine, a young girl, of which we learn nothing, excpept that "her eyes did not have an Oriental slant." Even though they do not touch and do not speak, Joncour, a true romantic, falls instantly in love with this strange and beautiful girl and comes to believe that his love is returned, although by his fourth and final trip to Japan, he does resign himself to the fact that she will remain forever out of his reach. Civil was in Japan has torn Hara Kei's village apart and Joncour returns to Lavilledieu and to his faithful and loving wife Hélène, resigned that "in the whole world there was nothing beautiful left." Now a wealthy man, Joncour settles down to life in Lavilledieu with Hélène util the arrival of a letter, posted in Belgium, arrives. Written entirely in Japanese, Joncour believes it looks "like a catalogue of the footprints of little birds, fantastically meticulous in its compilation.Read more ›
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This lovely little jewel of a book actually reminds me of the relationship I have with my own wife. However, unlike Joncour, I am lucky enough to realize that what I seek is right under my own roof. The letter Joncour thought he received from the concubine reminds me of the letters and the passion I share with my beloved and it also tells me how very lucky I am to be married to the woman of my dreams. This is an amazing book and anyone who loves or wants to love whould read it. There are lessons in it for all of us.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Matt on November 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
I love this book. It annoys me to see people dismiss it as characterless or tryhard poetry/prose.
Let's put this book in context. It's succinct and it's Italian in origin. I suspect that most people who have not liked Silk probably ignore these factors. If a book can be read in one sitting by an average reader than obviously it leaves a great deal to the imagination. We travel thousands of miles from France to Japan in a paragraph and the names of the places along the way are enough to conjure images both mysterious and romantic in the readers mind.
A good friend of mine gave me the book and said she cried through most of it. I can see why she did but I'm inclined to disagree. For me Silk has less to do with tragedy and more to do with the human condition. Some characters live their life as best they can while others are left spectating (and looking in the wrong direction at that). Waldman is to be congratulated for revealing Baricco's muse to the english speaking world.
I would recommend this book to anyone and advise them to read it in one sitting. I guarantee you will want to read it again.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Shashank Tripathi on July 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
I believe it is a proverb of the African bushmen, "A story is like the wind, it comes from a far-off quarter, and we feel it."
Those words were invented to describe this stirring gem from Baricco.
His prose feels much like a light autumn breeze, soft yet wondrously mermerizing. With ballad-like refrains and sublime descriptions of the harmonious way of Japanese life, we are drawn into an evocative portrait of what it means to be human, at our most elemental, and the effect is awesome.
The hypnotic curiosity of a distant unrequited love leads the novel to its stark and tempestuos end, which lingers in your mind long after you've turned the last page in bewilderment.
I have never read such an effortlessly haunting saga of compassion, obsession, intrigue. Kudos to the translator for retaining Baricco's original Italian delicacy.
It takes about 2 hours to journey between the novel's shores, but I bet you'll take the voyage more than once.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
Alessandro Baricco's SILK is a rare extended poem or aria of a novel. The author's background as a musicologist is evident in the way he fashions his tale of sensuality and eroticism: statements are made only to be repeated verbatim later in the story of four excursions to Japan as though having said it once merely requires a reprise; moments of visual senses and responses are in fragments, like breaths inhaling and exhaling the unspeakable quality of beauty and desire; the 'chapters' are brief, often one page in length, like an aside to the reader. It is a hauntingly beautiful song and Baricco composes it well (the translation from the original Italian by Ann Goldstein is equally as sensitive).

Hervé Joncour is a silkworm merchant living in 1861 France in a town Lavilledieu whose wealth is dependent on the silk manufactured form the eggs and hatched larvae of the silkworm. He is married to Hélène Joncour, a beautiful wife who allows her husband to make trips to far away lands to support the town industry. They are a happy couple, hoping for a child. Baldabiou is a businessman who encourages Joncour to travel to the then dangerous Japan to gather silkworm eggs not infected with the disease that threatens local eggs. Joncour sets out to Japan, a long journey through Europe, Russia, Siberia, and China to a Japanese village Shirakawa where he meets he chieftain Hara Kei - but more importantly, where he first encounters the gaze of a nameless beautiful woman - a girl with eyes not the shape of Oriental eyes - who appears to be a mistress of Hara Kei. That exchanged gaze, wordless, leads to the obsessive infatuation that rules Joncour's life. The story repeatedly visits this moment and the clandestine 'love' that occurs between the two.
Read more ›
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