France, 1861. When an epidemic threatens to wipe out the silk trade in France, Hervi Joncour, a young silk breeder, has to travel overland to distant Japan, out of bounds to foreigners, to smuggle out healthy silkworms. In the course of his secret negotiations with the local baron, Joncour's attention is arrested by the man's concubine - a girl who does not have oriental eyes. Although they are unable to exchange so much as a word, love blossoms between them, a love that is conveyed in a number of obscure messages. How their secret affair develops is told in this remarkable love story. As haunting as a strain of passionate music, Silk is an enchantment, an exquisite narrative and stylistic tour de force.
Alessandro Baricco was born in Turin in 1958. He is the author of two previous novels, Castelli di rabbia, which won the Prix M-dicis and the Campiello prize, and Oceano mare, which won the Viareggio and Palazzo del Bosco prizes. He has also written works in the field of musicology. He is highly regarded in Italy for his television programmes, one on opera, the other on literature. Silk, which became and immediate bestseller in Italy, has been published in sixteen languages - including Japanese.