Reviews of Silk (1996)
Review by mojosmom (2005-03-29)
As strong and light as the finest Japanese silk. This is a delicately written book, very hard to describe.
On Joncour's first trip to Japan, he encounters a woman whose image will obsess him. They never speak, they never touch. He cannot read the note she sends him. The jacket blurb calls this "a story of adventure, sexual enthrallment, and a love so powerful that it unhinges a man's life." I think that is a completely misleading description of this book. It is not about sex, it is not about love, not, even, about obsession or desire. It is about how a dream invades one's life, even as one goes about daily living.
The language is spare and elegant, like sumi-e. Images of the feel of silk, the sound of birds, the scent of flowers, repeat. Repetition is important to Baricco. Each of Joncour's journeys from France to Japan is described in nearly identical words, as is each return journey. But rather than pall, this device heightens the anticipation of arrival.
Do read it.