Susan Jane Gilman’s memoir was first published in 2009 and to this day remains near the top on my list of favorite books…
Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven is the story of Gilman’s and a college classmate’s trip to the People’s Republic of China in 1986 which, at the time, had only recently been opened to independent travelers from the west. A trip around the world for two idealistic and enthusiastic young backpackers unfolds into a sinister and suspenseful tale as things began to unravel, for the worst, with the cloud of Chinese government surveillance hanging over their every move.
Part travel memoir, part coming of age, Gilman’s story includes her reflections twenty years later of the naïveté and ignorance of her and her traveling companion about the risks and misunderstandings which can arise when traveling to a foreign country.
This memoir reads like a fiction novel and is nearly impossible to put down, I finished it in two late nights of reading.
Have you read Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven? What did you think?
Do you have any memoirs on your list of favorite books to recommend?