The Long Path to Wisdom

Tales from Burma

Since 1995 Jan-Philipp Sendker has visited Myanmar (Burma) dozens of times, and while doing research for his novels The Art of Hearing Heartbeats and A Well-Tempered Heart, he encountered numerous folktales and fables. These moving stories speak to the rich mythology of the diverse peoples of Burma, the spirituality of humankind, and the profound social impact of Buddhist thought. Some are so strange he couldn’t classify them or identify a familiar moral, while others reminded him of the fairy tales of his childhood, except that here monkeys, tigers, elephants, and crocodiles inhabited the fantastic lands instead of hedgehogs, donkeys, or geese. Their morals resemble those of the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen, illustrating how all cultures draw on a universal wisdom to create their myths.

The Long Path to Wisdom’s evocative stories run the gamut of human emotions, from the familiar to the shocking, and are sure to delight Heartbeats fans as well as those newly discovering the magic of Sendker’s incandescent writing.

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A Well-Tempered Heart

Almost ten years have passed since Julia Win came back from Burma, her father’s native country. Though she is a successful Manhattan lawyer, her private life is at a crossroads; her boyfriend recently left her, she has suffered a miscarriage, and she is, despite her wealth, unhappy with her professional life. Julia is lost and exhausted.

One day, in the middle of an important business meeting, she hears a stranger’s voice in her head that causes her to leave the office without explanation. In the following days, her crisis only deepens. Not only does the female voice refuse to disappear, but it starts to ask questions Julia has been trying to avoid. Why do you live alone? To whom do you feel close? What do you want in life?

Interwoven with Julia’s story is that of a Burmese woman named Nu Nu who finds her world turned upside down when Burma goes to war and calls on her two young sons to be child soldiers. This spirited sequel, like The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, explores the most inspiring and passionate terrain: the human heart.

Published by Other Press

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Sweetly tragic.

Library Journal

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After I had put down the book I knew that I had never read a more beautiful love story—and I do read a lot. Whenever I sell the book I know I make somebody happy. Very often the customer comes back a few days later and thanks me for my recommendation.

Bettina Meyer, Bookseller, die Buchhandlung, Neugraben, Germany

The book is unique in many ways. Magical. Poetic. Full of suspense. A real page turner. It takes us into a very distant, very different culture and into one of the most moving love stories I’ve ever read.

Ruth Duchstein, Bookseller, Reuffel Buchhandlung, Koblenz, Germany

I have been a bookseller for more than twenty years and The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is our all-time bestseller.

Marianne Nagel, Bookseller, Buchhandlung Nagel, Amriswil, Switzerland

I love this book. The reader gets some wonderful insights into the soul of a people in a mysterious, far away country. At the same time it makes us think about ourselves, how we define love and what we believe is important in our lives.

Angelika Schwabach, Bookseller, Buchhandlung Ida von Behr, Volksdorf, Germany

It might be the only book I know which I or my sales team can recommend to every customer no matter how different their taste is. Young, old, male, female, an easy one or a picky one, it doesn’t matter. I give them a brief summary and it always works like magic.

Ingeborg Deichmann, Bookseller, Bensheimer Bücherstube, Bensheim, Germany

No matter what I even attempt to say, I can’t possibly capture the absolute magic of this book. Like a spell, it haunts. Like love, it’s going to endure.

Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

A wonderful book, giving you a feeling of both, happiness and deep emotions that stay with you for a long time after you have read the last page.

Ursula Zanger, Bookseller, Orell Füssli, The Bookshop, Zurich

An epic narrative that requires…a large box of tissues.

Publishers Weekly

[The Art of Hearing Heartbeats] is a love story set in Burma…imbued with Eastern spirituality and fairy-tale romanticism…Fans of Nicholas Sparks and/or Elizabeth Gilbert should eat this up.

Kirkus Reviews

A story at once both poignant and joyous, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats reaffirms how love can transform the harshest of realities into a mystical one. Sendker takes us from contemporary, upscale New York to impoverished Burma, weaving a complex tale that is part romance, part father-daughter story. Reading this book was like reading poetry, with full attention required for each sentence. A thoroughly immersive and enjoyable read.

Margaret Dilloway, author of How to Be an American Housewife

Set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is a rare novel. Telling the story of a young blind man’s journey through a world of auditory intensity, Jan-Philipp Sendker renews one’s faith in the possibility of real, pure love. I finished the book in tears.

Shawna Yang Ryan, author of Water Ghosts

Already a huge hit in Europe, Sendker’s debut is a lush tale of romance and family set in mid-twentieth century Burma….A beautiful tale bound to enchant readers.


The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

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 be…until 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 father’s 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 reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.

Published by Other Press.

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