THE LAUGHING SUTRA
by Mark Salzman
Random House; 263 pages; $18.95
Four years ago, Mark Salzman made an enviable debut as a writer. Iron and Silk was an account of the two years he spent in Hunan teaching English to Chinese medical students. A young man's book, it was modest and graceful and, most important, managed to reflect how the author's own openness and charm brought out the candor in the reserved Chinese people he encountered.
Salzman made a movie of his book, due out next month, and has now written his first novel, also with a Chinese theme. It would...