Skip to main navigation Skip to main content

The Silk Road

A Novel
Kathryn Davis

The Silk Road begins on a mat in yoga class, deep within a labyrinth on a settlement somewhere in the icy north, under the canny guidance of Jee Moon. When someone fails to arise from corpse pose, the Astronomer, the Archivist, the Botanist, the Keeper, the Topologist, the Geographer, the Iceman, and the Cook remember the paths that brought them there—paths on which they still seem to be traveling.

The Silk Road also begins in rivalrous skirmishing for favor, in the protected Eden of childhood, and it ends in the harrowing democracy of mortality, in sickness and loss and death. Kathryn Davis’s sleight of hand brings the past, present, and future forward into brilliant coexistence; in an endlessly shifting landscape, her characters make their way through ruptures, grief, and apocalypse, from existence to nonexistence, from embodiment to pure spirit.

Since the beginning of her extraordinary career, Davis has been fascinated by journeys. Her books have been shaped around road trips, walking tours, hegiras, exiles: and now, in this triumphant novel, a pilgrimage. The Silk Road is her most explicitly allegorical novel and also her most profound vehicle; supple and mesmerizing, the journey here is not undertaken by a single protagonist but by a community of separate souls—a family, a yoga class, a generation. Its revelations are ravishing and desolating.

Share Title

Publication Date
Trim Size
5.5 x 8.25
A spellbinding novel about transience and mortality, by one of the most original voices in American literature

About the Author

Kathryn  Davis
Credit: Anne Davis
Kathryn Davis is the author of eight novels, including The Silk Road and Duplex. She is the senior fiction writer on the faculty of the writing program at Washington University.
More by author


  • “A haunting take on the fluidity and circuitousness of human life. . . . Davis is a singular writer, capable of piercing observations and gorgeous language.”Publishers Weekly
  • “Kathryn Davis is one of our finest and strangest writers. . . . You never know where Davis will take you.”—Lit Hub
  • “The tenacity of Davis' language, her spellbinding images and spellbound objects, the fragile beauty of the worlds she creates in the moment of their destruction reward an open-minded reader's labors. A book that stuns, almost literally, with its force and its humility. A tender book. A savage book. A once-in-a-lifetime story.”Kirkus Reviews, starred review
  • “[Kathryn Davis is] a master of mind-whirling, arabesque fiction. . . . Davis has created a spooky, slippery, provocative, and elegiac fable in which amusingly fractious and poignantly imperiled pilgrims press on in a blasted world, destination unknown.”Booklist
Back to Table of Contents