Telling two stories at once, this gentle novel has mystical overtones and contains the wisdom of the Buddhist monks who play a role in Tin Win's life. At the heart of it, this is both a delicate romance and a tale of poignant family love.
The main story is the romance between Mi Mi and Tin Win. Two ordinary, but extraordinary, souls meet in a rural Burmese village, and stay connected despite any physical distance between them. Tin Win's American daughter Julia, searching for her father Tin Win, who was missing in more ways than one, learns from a stranger the reasons behind her father's enigmatic and restrained lifestyle, despite his success in his adopted country, America.
Translated from German by Kevin Wiliarty, Sendker's beautiful novel does reflect the "lost in translation" syndrome - at times there was too Western a tone to the central characters' dialogue, but overall this novel has a depth and strength that carries a reader along like a cloud of smoke wafting in a breeze.
With vivid descriptions of a simple lifestyle in an exotic country, there is much to take away from this beautiful novel, which essentially explores the nature of love, life and death.