Xuanzang should be known as one of the world’s great heroes. His travels across Asia to bring true Buddhism back to China are legendary, and his own book provides a unique record of the history and culture of his time. Yet he is unknown to most of us and even to most Chinese, whose knowledge of Buddhist history has been eradicated by decades of Communist rule.
Sun Shuyun was determined to follow in his footsteps, to discover more about Xuanzang and restore his fame. She decided to retrace his journey from China to India and back, an adventure that in the 8th century took Xuanzang eighteen years and led him across 118 kingdoms, an adventure that opened up the east and west of Asia to each other – and to us.
A man of great faith and determination, Xuanzang won the hearts of kings and robbers with his teaching, his charm and his indomitable will. Against all odds he persuaded the Confucian emperors to allow Buddhism to flourish in China.
At the heart of the book lies Sun Shuyun’s own personal journey towards understanding the Buddhist faith of her grandmother, recognising the passionate idealism of the communist beliefs of her own family and discovering her own ideological and personal path through life.
Reviews of Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud
‘Packed with erudition and perception…it is also honest, sensitive, entirely without ego…ultimately, a meditation on the human condition.’ Evening Standard
‘Sun Shuyun records her feelings and those of others with spontaneous simplicity, almost innocence, as if she were still the child seeking her grandmother’s solution.’ Colin Thubron, Sunday Telegraph
‘Wild Swans meets The Alchemist.’ Conde Nast Traveller