This lovely book makes its mark through gentle comedy, pristine writing, and the rich oddity of its people, especially Monkey and Samir, the central figures of the journey along the Silk Road. The comic touches within the writing are many, as the author is enamored of word play and of puns, which, while not my favorite practice, is handled here so deftly that it brings a good deal of amusement to the flow of the writing. The remarkable first sentence of the novel introduces a scene that is nearly the high point of the book, the stoning of the twelve-year-old orphan whom we come to know as Monkey and his rescue by the wizened caravan trader Samir, who is a seller of dreams, which is a nice term for a bullshit artist. Samir’s dream-telling operates at a very high level, however, and becomes as entertaining to the reader as it is to his audience. The story that follows is quick, heartfelt, and rich. Many people have been swindled by Samir and have hired killers to enact their revenge. The attempts on Samir’s life are the spine of the plot, and the trick of the writing is that each of these murder attempts takes on a different spin from our expectations. All the while Monkey is coming to understand what love and family really mean, an important lesson for him, since he is an orphan who has experienced almost no affection in his short life. The book reminds me of Saramago’s The Elephant’s Journey, especially in its reliance on the voice of the writer, though Nayeri’s book is slighter in some ways, or perhaps more clearly aimed at including younger readers in its audience. It’s a very fine performance.