Reader's Comments
Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

By Jan-Philipp Sendker

PBR Book Review:

This is a moving love story set in Burma written in a lyrical understated style. Itís about a young womenís journey to discover the reason her father unexpectedly disappeared from her life. While the main theme is a love story, itís also a coming of age story for a young man with an all -consuming desire to be reunited with his true love. A range of emotions surface as the story unfolds and the mystery is revealed. The descriptions of Burma are excellent, creating a strong sense of time and place and exposing the vast cultural differences between this country and ours. In summary Ė a unique and compelling story for those that enjoy a more literary read. Itís character driven with a rather languid pace that needs to be read slowly and savored for full appreciation.

Book Club Talking Points:

Talking Points: This book explores the meaning of true love between a man and a woman. Is there such a thing and can it endure years of separation? It also explores the love between a parent and child, issues of abandonment, trust and forgiveness. Recommend for book clubs that enjoy a more literary read.

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*Author Website:

*Other Books by Same Author: Debut novel for this author

*Discussion Questions

1. In your opinion, what does the back-and-forth between Juliaís and U Baís narratives add to the telling of the love story between Tin Win and Mi Mi? How do these stories interrelate?

2. Tin Win is born to parents who abandon him as a child but Mi Mi is born into a close-knit family. Mi Miís mother, especially, adores her daughter. Do you see this developmental difference reflected in the adult each one becomes, or in the way the two relate to one another?

3. After he loses his sight, Tin Win spends several years in a monastery under the tutelage of the abbot, U May. In your opinion, what does U May model for Tin Win? How does Tin Win grow in these years?

4. Tin Winís wealthy uncle, U Saw, finances Tin Winís eye operation and subsequent education abroad. But to U Sawís discredit, his motives are self-interested, and for his own convenience, he obstructs all communication between Tin Win and Mi Mi. Is U Saw portrayed as a villainóor is he even villainous?

5. A portion of the novel is in the form of letters. Does this change the mood or the flow of the novel? The way you see the characters?

6. Tin Win and Mi Mi develop an intense, literally symbiotic relationship: he walks for her; she acts as his eyes. They become inseparable, but then they are separated for decades. Given what you know about each character, how do you think they are able to withstand the time apart?

7. Discuss the role of memory in the novel, both individual and collective. 8. Burma (now known as Myanmar) was occupied by the British from the nineteenth century until 1948. How important is this colonial history to the major events of the novel?

9. Prophecy and superstition play a significant role in Burmese culture. Do you think this belief system inspires a fundamental feeling of security or of anxiety in the main characters of the novel, and why?

10. The novel contrasts Western and Eastern values: individualism and personal achievement versus kinship and transcendence. Where and how are these differences brought to light?

Book Summary
Other Press Ė 336 pages Ė January 31, 2012 - ISBN-10: 1590514637
A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present. When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might beÖuntil they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her fatherís past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the readerís belief in the power of love to move mountains.
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