Excerpt from Heart of the Universe: He sees a woman walk in from around the corner–

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Wanting to remove himself from this scene, Pep looks away.

As he stares at the entrance to the courtyard, he sees a woman walk in from around the corner and come toward them. She is tall and slender—“willowy” is the word that comes to mind—and young, maybe in her thirties. Unlike many of the women they’ve seen in Changsha, she wears a white silk dress slit up the side and covered with pink lotus blossoms, the silk flowing down to just above her ankles, revealing tan feet in blood-red sandals. A matching red parasol protects her from the heat. As she gets closer, his breath catches in his chest—she is beautiful. Beautiful and sensual. A long oval face with high cheekbones and large, dark eyes and shoulder-length black hair—which, in the bright sun, glints with an almost imaginary touch of red—like Katie’s. Thin and graceful like Katie, too. And unlike most of the Chinese women he’s seen, she looks straight into his eyes and holds his gaze. Her smile seems to him, somehow, not casual, but deep, even elegant—also unusual, here in rural China. He smiles back. She turns and walks across the yard and goes up onto the veranda and into an office of the police station. He can still see her standing in line, waiting her turn.

“Pep,” Clio whispers to him, clutching his arm, “did you see that woman?”

“Beautiful—incredibly beautiful.”

“No, no—I mean she looks just like Katie.”

“Yeah, I thought that too—”

Just like! Of all the thousands of Chinese faces we’ve seen, she’s the only one who looks just like Katie.”

*

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And please join us @ the book launch for At the Heart of the Universe:

Best-selling author Samuel Shem discusses his latest novel, At The Heart of the Universe (Seven Stories Press), from 7 to 8:45 p.m.  on Nov. 14 at the SoHo Playhouse, New York City. Joining Shem for this deeply personal evening of story-telling and dialogue with the audience will be his wife, the author Janet Surrey, and their daughter, Katie Surrey Bergman–and moderator Adam Pertman (Adoption Nation).

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