The Laughing Sutra by Mark Salzman is at times laugh out loud funny, quite an accomplishment for a novel about such a perilous time. Hsun-ching an orphan, is taken in by a kindly Buddhist Monk and raised in quiet solitude near the bank of a river. He is taught by the learned Monk, proving himself a willing scholar, particularly in the legends about the Monkey King. The Monk’s life’s desire is to travel to America to retrieve a stolen sutra, The Laughing Sutra. To this end, he procures English lan-guage books for his young ward with the aim of having him learn to speak the alien tongue. When Hsun-ching is still a mere boy all this quiet life is brought to a violent end by the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution. Time passes, circumstances change, and Hsun-ching decides to make the perilous journey to America in search of the missing sutra. He is accompanied on his journey by the wily, exceedingly strong Colonel Sun, who might be far more than he seems. Salzman writes with grace and humor. The Laughing Sutra is a joy to read!
— Deon Stonehouse
Iron & Silk, Mark Salzman's bestselling account of his adventures as an English teacher and martial arts student in China, introduced a writer of enormous charm and keen insight into the cultural chasm between East and West. Now Salzman returns to China in his first novel, which follows the adventures of Hsun-ching, a naive but courageous orphan, and the formidable and mysterious Colonel Sun, who together travel from mainland China to San Francisco, risking everything to track down an elusive Buddhist scripture called The Laughing Sutra. Part Tom Sawyer, part Tom Jones, The Laughing Sutra draws us into an irresistible narrative of danger and comedy that speaks volumes about the nature of freedom and the meaning of loyalty.
About the Author
Mark Salzman is the author of Iron & Silk, an account of his two years in China; Lost in Place, a memoir; and the novels The Laughing Sutra, The Soloist, and Lying Awake.
"A contemporary version of [a] classic tale...Salzman is a highly appealing writer."
-- Philadelphia Inquirer
"Lovingly drawn...very promising and often funny...Salzman is skilled at using his tale to comment on such varied matters as the Cultural Revolution, the Hong Kong drug trade, American amusement parks and...art in West Coast galleries."