Silk – Alessandro Baricco

Silk is the second book I’ve read from the Italian author Alessandro Baricco. I also wanted to read this cause it is on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. Alessandro Baricco is an author that surprises and delights with each book. I’m so glad I’ve discovered him.


Despite the short chapters, Silk is a very fluent and never-exhausting novel. At first, I thought I loved it because it takes place in Japan, but then I realised that it is a little unfair. Undoubtedly, if the setting were in a country that I was not familiar with, it would be a novel I would love.

Silk - Alessandro Baricco

The year is 1861, Herve Joncour is a French merchant who trades silkworm eggs. They lead a happy life with his wife, Helene. However, one day a disease occurs in silkworms and silk is about to become unavailable throughout Europe. However, there is a place where the disease is not transmitted. It is a very far country, beyond the known, legendary with the quality of its silk and known for its hostility towards foreigners: Japan.

Herve Joncour leaves his happy and calm life and hits the roads and arrives in Japan after a long journey. Here he meets a woman. They don’t touch each other and even don’t talk to each other. One day he gets a note from her, but he cannot read it until he returns to his home country. And when he reads it, it is already too late. Herve Joncour is in love.

I do not want to write anything more about Silk so as not to spoil it. However, I can say in confidence that Alessandro Baricco is an author that surprises people, and Silk is an excellent book. Enjoy!

Silk - Alessandro Baricco


France, 1861. When an epidemic threatens to wipe out the silk trade in France, Herve Joncour, a young silkworm 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 recondite messages.

How their secret affair develops is told in this remarkable love story.

Alessandro Baricco

Alessandro Baricco is an Italian writer, director and performer. His novels have been translated into a wide number of languages. He lives in Rome with his wife and two sons.

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