Susan Jane Gilman is the author of the bestsellers "Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress" and "Kiss My Tiara." Her newest book, "Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven" was named one Amazon's "Best Books of 2009" and Barnes & Noble's "Best Nonfiction Books of 2009." It will be published in paperback in Feb. 2010. She has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Ms., and Real Simple, among others, published short fiction, and received several literary and journalism awards. She currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland with her husband, where she does a monthly book review show for World Radio Switzerland, the country's English language station.
When I was a teenager, I was inspired by all the usual, 20th century American culprits -- the three John's (Cheever, Steinbeck, Updike), Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, J.D. Salinger, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison. Since then, I find I'm influenced by everything I read; it shows me either what to aspire to, or what not to do.
"Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven" in paperback from Grand Central Publishing in February 2010.
Publisher's Note: A hilarious but harrowing journey, a modern heart of darkness full of Communist operatives, backpackers, and pancakes.
In 1986, fresh out of college, Gilman and her friend Claire decided to embark on an ambitious trip around the globe, starting in the People’s Republic of China. At that point, China had been open to independent travelers for roughly ten minutes.
Armed only with the collected works of Nietzsche and an astrological love guide, the two friends plunged into the dusty streets of Shanghai. Unsurprisingly, they quickly found themselves in over their heads. As they ventured off the map deep into Chinese territory, they were stripped of everything familiar and forced to confront their limitations amid culture shock and government surveillance. Soon, they began to unravel -- one physically, the other psychologically. What began as a journey full of humor, eroticism, and enlightenment grew increasingly sinister – becoming a real-life international thriller that transformed them forever.
“Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven” is a flat-out page-turner, an astonishing true story of hubris and redemption told with Gilman’s trademark compassion, lyricism, and wit.
Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books, now Hachette)
Procrastination, hypochrondria, offending the Swiss, mutilating the French language, traveling to foreign countries to combat my own ignorance. Cooking without following the recipe, dancing, satire, humanitarian work, feminism, Bollywood, teaching, reading anything well-written, talking to strangers.
Doctors Without Borders, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood, Natural Resources Defense League, Joint Distribution Committee
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