Xinran was working as a radio journalist when one day in 1994 she received a phone call asking her to listen to the story of Shu Wen, an elderly woman whose husband was sent in the late 1950s as a military doctor to the areas of the People’s Liberation Army fighting against Tibetan guerrillas. Shu Wen soon received a notification of his death, but without any explanation of the circumstances of this death. In 1958, she herself decided to go to Tibet in search of the truth about her husband’s disappearance. After arriving at the place, the situation got out of control and Shu Wen was left alone, relying on the help of a local family of nomads. The woman did not expect to stay in Tibet for 30 years.
Sky Burial is a journey to the remotest corners of Tibet, the complete immersion in local spirituality and culture. Although the title suggests a love story in the convention of a melodrama, the story of Shu Wen written by Xinran is rather a reportage from a trip to Tibet and a chronicle of social changes there over the decades. It is a look at a world that has gone forever.