“The Young Monk” is the fourth book in the “Journey to the West” series of stories by Jeff Pepper and Xiao Hui Wang. Other titles include “Rise of the Monkey King”, “Trouble in Heaven” and “The Immortal Peaches”.
This book is based on chapters 8 and 9 of Journey To The West, an epic novel written in the 16th Century by Wu Chen'en. Journey To The West is loosely based on an actual journey by the Buddhist monk Xuanzang, who traveled from the Chinese city of Chang'an westward to India in 629 A.D. and returned 17 years later with priceless knowledge and texts of Buddhism. Over the course of the book the band of travelers face the 81 tribulations that Xuanzang had to endure to attain Buddhahood.
Each book in our Journey to the West series covers a short section of the original 2,000-page novel. The first three books in the series all focus on Sun Wukong, the Monkey King. We tell the story of his birth, his early years, and his adventures in Heaven and Earth that lead, ultimately, to his capture and his centuries-long imprisonment under Five Finger Mountain.
In this, the fourth book in the series, we leave the imprisoned Sun Wukong behind, and tell the story of Xuanzang, the monk chosen by the Buddha to undertake the dangerous journey westward to India and bring sacred wisdom back to China. Unlike the previous books which told of Sun Wukong's great adventures (and misadventures) across heaven and earth, this story deals with smaller, human-scale events and the traditional themes of love, loyalty, treachery and revenge. Our story begins with the Buddha's decision to bring his wisdom to China. Then we meet the young couple — Guangrui and Wenjiao — who become Xuanzang's parents. We witness their terrible ordeals around the time of Xuanzang's birth, and we then jump ahead to when he turns eighteen, learns of his true parentage, and avenges his parents.
The story is written, as much as possible, using the 600 word vocabulary of HSK3. It is presented in simplified Chinese characters and pinyin, and includes an English version and complete glossary. Additional study aids are on our website, www.imagin8press.com.