An NPR Best Book of the Year
London translator Iona Kirkpatrick is at work on a new project: a collection of letters and diaries by a Chinese punk guitarist named Kublai Jian. As she translates the handwritten pages, a story of romance and revolution emerges between Jian, who believes there is no art without political commitment, and Mu, a poet whom he loves as fiercely as his ideals.
Iona cannot know that Jian has come to Britain seeking political asylum and is mere miles away in Dover, awaiting news of his fate. Mu is in Beijing, writing letters to London, feverishly trying to track Jian down. As Iona charts the course of their twenty-year relationship from its beginnings at Beijing University to Jian s defiant march in the Jasmine Revolution, her empty life takes on an urgent purpose: to bring Jian and Mu together again before it s too late.