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We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies

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For readers of Pachinko and We Need New Names, a compelling and profound debut novel about a Tibetan family's journey through exile. In the wake of China's invasion of Tibet in 1959, Lhamo and her younger sister Tenkyi arrive at a refugee camp on the border of Nepal. Lhamo and Tenkyi survived the dangerous journey across the Himalayas into exile, but their parents did not. For readers of Pachinko and We Need New Names, a compelling and profound debut novel about a Tibetan family's journey through exile. In the wake of China's invasion of Tibet in 1959, Lhamo and her younger sister Tenkyi arrive at a refugee camp on the border of Nepal. Lhamo and Tenkyi survived the dangerous journey across the Himalayas into exile, but their parents did not. Now, Lhamo-haunted by the loss of her homeland and the memory of her mother, a village oracle-is trying to rebuild a life amid a shattered community. Lhamo finds hope in the arrival of a young man named Samphel, whose uncle brings with him an ancient statue of a nameless saint-a statue last seen in their village and known for vanishing and reappearing in times of need. Decades later, the sisters are separated, and Tenkyi is living with Lhamo's daughter Dolma in Toronto. While Tenkyi works as a cleaner and struggles with traumatic memories, Dolma is vying for a place as a scholar of Tibet Studies. But when Dolma comes across the statue of the nameless saint in a collector's vault, she decides to reclaim it for her family and community, even if it means risking her dreams. Breathtaking in its scope and powerful in its intimacy, We Measure the Earth with our Bodies is a gorgeously written meditation on colonization, displacement, and the lengths we go to remain connected to our families and ancestral lands. Told through the lives of four people over fifty years, this novel provides a nuanced, moving portrait of the little-known world of Tibetan exiles.


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For readers of Pachinko and We Need New Names, a compelling and profound debut novel about a Tibetan family's journey through exile. In the wake of China's invasion of Tibet in 1959, Lhamo and her younger sister Tenkyi arrive at a refugee camp on the border of Nepal. Lhamo and Tenkyi survived the dangerous journey across the Himalayas into exile, but their parents did not. For readers of Pachinko and We Need New Names, a compelling and profound debut novel about a Tibetan family's journey through exile. In the wake of China's invasion of Tibet in 1959, Lhamo and her younger sister Tenkyi arrive at a refugee camp on the border of Nepal. Lhamo and Tenkyi survived the dangerous journey across the Himalayas into exile, but their parents did not. Now, Lhamo-haunted by the loss of her homeland and the memory of her mother, a village oracle-is trying to rebuild a life amid a shattered community. Lhamo finds hope in the arrival of a young man named Samphel, whose uncle brings with him an ancient statue of a nameless saint-a statue last seen in their village and known for vanishing and reappearing in times of need. Decades later, the sisters are separated, and Tenkyi is living with Lhamo's daughter Dolma in Toronto. While Tenkyi works as a cleaner and struggles with traumatic memories, Dolma is vying for a place as a scholar of Tibet Studies. But when Dolma comes across the statue of the nameless saint in a collector's vault, she decides to reclaim it for her family and community, even if it means risking her dreams. Breathtaking in its scope and powerful in its intimacy, We Measure the Earth with our Bodies is a gorgeously written meditation on colonization, displacement, and the lengths we go to remain connected to our families and ancestral lands. Told through the lives of four people over fifty years, this novel provides a nuanced, moving portrait of the little-known world of Tibetan exiles.

30 review for We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    Tsering Yangzom Lama's We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies is a multigenerational novel beginning shortly before the Chinese invasion of Tibet and continuing through to the present day. The generations included in the novel are those who were adults at the time of the invasion, their children, and the subsequent generation of children born in the refugee camps that Tibetans were forced to flee to. At the center of the novel is a nameless clay saint figurine, rescued from a destroyed monastery. U Tsering Yangzom Lama's We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies is a multigenerational novel beginning shortly before the Chinese invasion of Tibet and continuing through to the present day. The generations included in the novel are those who were adults at the time of the invasion, their children, and the subsequent generation of children born in the refugee camps that Tibetans were forced to flee to. At the center of the novel is a nameless clay saint figurine, rescued from a destroyed monastery. Unlike most such figures, this one is humble, unembellished, human and vulnerable in appearance. This nameless saint is reputed to disappear, then reappear in times of crisis when his presence is needed—times such as the invasion of Tibet and the years following that invasion. Readers see the nameless saint being used in healing rituals pre-invasion and in the refugee camps, and in Canada purchased as an addition to a wealthy orientalist's "Asian" collection. (The choice of "orientalist," rather than another term is deliberate here, intended to reflect both Western lumping together of the cultures within China and across the Asian continent and the view of the nameless saint as an artifact, rather than a living protector of a community that continues to exist after decades of cultural genocide.) The aspiring scholar/daughter of a woman living in a refugee camp in Nepal who has immigrated to Canada and is pursuing graduate work in Tibetan Culture is shown the nameless saint at a party of mingled scholars, art patrons, and activists and recognizes it as the legendary figurine she grew up hearing about but had never seen. The novel's central characters include this woman—one of the generation born in refugee camps—her aunt, who has also immigrated to Canada; her mother, who continues to live in the camp in Nepal; and the grandmother she never knew who was a traditional healer. Lama gives us a powerful narrative of the Tibetan diaspora, along with an exploration of the cultural changes that resulting from this diaspora. Is the nameless saint a god or is it merely an object? Where does it belong—carefully preserved in a museum or private collection or among the people who still see it as a living force with protective powers? We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies makes for powerful and enlightening reading, serving as both history (as experienced through fiction) and as an opening into a larger consideration of colonialism, conquest, and the deliberate erasure of cultures. I received a free electronic review copy of this title; the opinions are my own.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    This family epic, spanning 50 years, three countries, illustrates love, loss, and longing for family and country. These two sisters survive being uprooted and forced migration after the Chinese invasion of Tibet in the late 1950s. What was especially well done, were the conversations that a Dolma, the daughter of one of the sisters and a university student, has with white scholars of her country, and what their responsibilities could be if they looked at the macro and not the micro. And, how a c This family epic, spanning 50 years, three countries, illustrates love, loss, and longing for family and country. These two sisters survive being uprooted and forced migration after the Chinese invasion of Tibet in the late 1950s. What was especially well done, were the conversations that a Dolma, the daughter of one of the sisters and a university student, has with white scholars of her country, and what their responsibilities could be if they looked at the macro and not the micro. And, how a country, people and way of life are romanticized which. has no bearing as to the reality of the people who live the experience. I received an arc from the publisher but all opinions are my own.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I loved this book! I've always wanted to know more about Tibet and the people of Tibet and this book was like getting the history of Tibet in a very personal way. The characters were so interesting and the writing was excellent. I hope many people will read this book because it is a story that needs to be told--again and again. Kudos to the author!! I loved this book! I've always wanted to know more about Tibet and the people of Tibet and this book was like getting the history of Tibet in a very personal way. The characters were so interesting and the writing was excellent. I hope many people will read this book because it is a story that needs to be told--again and again. Kudos to the author!!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

    Abandoned at page 42. I could tell from the first few pages that the writing style was not suited to my taste. I persevered for awhile because I have a strong interest in the topic. But it's just too dry and plodding, and utterly lacking in emotional connection with what is happening to the characters. Abandoned at page 42. I could tell from the first few pages that the writing style was not suited to my taste. I persevered for awhile because I have a strong interest in the topic. But it's just too dry and plodding, and utterly lacking in emotional connection with what is happening to the characters.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    "We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies" is an eye-opening look at Tibet in the 1950s, and what happens after the Chinese invasion forces Tibetans to leave their home. Young Lhamo and her family are forced to flee to a refugee camp near Nepal, and the treacherous causes her to lose both of her parents. With her and her younger sister Tenkyi as the remainder of their family, they're forced to rely on the community around them to survive. Decades later, the two are separated across the ocean and win "We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies" is an eye-opening look at Tibet in the 1950s, and what happens after the Chinese invasion forces Tibetans to leave their home. Young Lhamo and her family are forced to flee to a refugee camp near Nepal, and the treacherous causes her to lose both of her parents. With her and her younger sister Tenkyi as the remainder of their family, they're forced to rely on the community around them to survive. Decades later, the two are separated across the ocean and wind up living very different lives - but a chance occurrence leads to their reunion and a chance at coming to terms with their past. I appreciated how this novel highlighted such a painful point in history, and its lasting impact on the Tibetan people. There's an incredible amount of loss and tragedy that occurs even in just the first few chapters of this novel, and leads readers to develop awe and appreciation at Lhamo's and Tenkyi's will to survive - even at such a young age. The later parts of the novel give us a chance to see them as their older and more mature, and coming to terms to living in exile and dealing with the sheer amount of loss they've gone through. There's a number of heavy and weighty topics that are covered in this novel, and are handled with care and compassion by the author. What I struggled with, however, was the writing style; passages didn't flow well, sentences felt too terse and clipped, and moments of great loss and sorrow didn't have the emotional weight that they could have. I struggled to get through this novel at times given how slow the pacing seemed at times, which I felt detracted from the overall story.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Hassinger

    A multi-generational tale of exile and longing; how is one to find a homeland after being forced out of it? How does the longing to return alter across generations, each one being born farther from the land and further from the customs. These are the questions that root themselves beneath a tale of two sisters, young girls during the invasion of Tibet, who grow up in camps in Nepal and are split apart with wanderlust and a re-calling of their homeland. This is a beautiful and heartbreaking novel A multi-generational tale of exile and longing; how is one to find a homeland after being forced out of it? How does the longing to return alter across generations, each one being born farther from the land and further from the customs. These are the questions that root themselves beneath a tale of two sisters, young girls during the invasion of Tibet, who grow up in camps in Nepal and are split apart with wanderlust and a re-calling of their homeland. This is a beautiful and heartbreaking novel that offers a glimpse at an impossible decision and its repercussions over fifty years.

  7. 4 out of 5

    P C

    We Measure the Earth is nothing less than an honor song and love letter to all bhoepas. It depicts with heart the joys and sorrows of a life (and many lives) in exile, and is a reverberating meditation on the relations we forge in fracture while yearning for return. This book is part of a lineage of tibetan hope and I dream of many more like it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    A moodily atmospheric family epic of Tibetan exile. Lhamo and her younger sister Tenkyi trek across the Himalayas to Nepal with their mother, a visionary, and father after the Chinese invade Tibet. Unfortunately, their parents do not survive and they find themselves being cared for such as it is by an uncle until they are separated. Lhamo as the older is responsible for the house while Tenkyi studies- and she's able later to go to Delhi for university- while Lhamo is sent to tend to an aunt who A moodily atmospheric family epic of Tibetan exile. Lhamo and her younger sister Tenkyi trek across the Himalayas to Nepal with their mother, a visionary, and father after the Chinese invade Tibet. Unfortunately, their parents do not survive and they find themselves being cared for such as it is by an uncle until they are separated. Lhamo as the older is responsible for the house while Tenkyi studies- and she's able later to go to Delhi for university- while Lhamo is sent to tend to an aunt who has lost her own children. Lhamo is fascinated by Samphel but marries another man, who drinks and disappears. Her daughter Dolma makes it to university in Toronto, where Tenkyi has emigrated and it is there that she finds the ka which had been so important to their family for so long. This starts in 1959 and then moves back and forth between the 1960s and the relative present and between the characters. Know that at times it feels as though you've missed something and that it is not a breakneck read. That said, it's a fascinating look at Tibetan culture and beliefs with intriguing characters. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. A very good read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    agata

    We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies is a story of two sisters who have to flee Tibet with their family from the Chinese invasion in 1950. The girls - Lhamo and Tenkyi - arrive at the refugee camp in Nepal together, but fate soon forces them apart. Many years later, Lhamo’s daughter, Dolma, is living with Tenkyi in Toronto, hoping to further her education. One day, her eye catches a mysterious statuette that was in all probability smuggled from Tibet. What is the statuette’s story, what connecti We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies is a story of two sisters who have to flee Tibet with their family from the Chinese invasion in 1950. The girls - Lhamo and Tenkyi - arrive at the refugee camp in Nepal together, but fate soon forces them apart. Many years later, Lhamo’s daughter, Dolma, is living with Tenkyi in Toronto, hoping to further her education. One day, her eye catches a mysterious statuette that was in all probability smuggled from Tibet. What is the statuette’s story, what connection does it have to Dolma and her family, and what happens when Dolma decides she must reclaim it? I was so incredibly excited to read this book - I love family dramas and I was always fascinated by Tibet and its people and history. This novel is beautifully written and filled to the brim with information about Tibet, but manages to present it in a way that doesn’t feel like reading a non-fiction book. It’s very clear how important the culture and history are to the author, and she writes about them in such a captivating way that I found myself numerous times picking up my phone to go down a rabbit hole of searching for even more information. It’s a character driven story so the pace is quite slow and even though I found the premise interesting, it took me way longer than I expected to finish the book. It’s not a quick, thrilling read - it’s definitely more of a book that you savor and take your time with. The main characters are well fleshed-out and intriguing, although I do wish we learned more about Tenkyi. TLDR: We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies is a brilliant but slow-moving novel that focuses on the issues of displacement, ancestry, and history. It’s an intimate glimpse into the lives of people we know so little about.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Yanique Gillana

    4.4 stars I am grateful to the publisher Bloomsbury USA for sending me an advanced copy of this book for review. This book was everything I was hoping it would be. Though I had been aware of the basics regarding the relationship between Tibet and China, I have never read anything that has really spoken about Tibetan culture from the point of view of Tibetans , or of how these events truly impacted their communities in the long term. This book provided all of those things. This is a multigenera 4.4 stars I am grateful to the publisher Bloomsbury USA for sending me an advanced copy of this book for review. This book was everything I was hoping it would be. Though I had been aware of the basics regarding the relationship between Tibet and China, I have never read anything that has really spoken about Tibetan culture from the point of view of Tibetans , or of how these events truly impacted their communities in the long term. This book provided all of those things. This is a multigenerational story that follows multiple women from the same family who experienced the effects of the Chinese occupation of Tibet to different degrees. We see how they are affected by their experiences, and how each of them responds. I really appreciated the emphasis that the author put on culture and religion . We see how connected the characters are to their identity as Tibetans, and how important this was for all their decisions. I also think that showing the complex relationships between the characters, both familial and romantic, was a very great way to discuss generational trauma , and how it manifested under different circumstances. The story was very well written, and I think the perspective choices and the decision to move between different timelines, as well as utilizing stories told from memory really added to the atmosphere of the story, and made I felt immersed in the lives of these characters. This was an emotional story from beginning to end . The actual ending was tragic yet realistic. It really showed that as much distance (both in terms of time and physical distance) that exists between the events and current time, the effects of that trauma still echo. The only issue I had was that some of the actions in the present day timeline seemed muddled, and that there were too many reveals crowded into the last portion of the story to explain character motivations. I'm happy to have read this story. I think it was an excellent historical fiction and I would recommend this to fans of historical fiction and cultural stories, and readers who enjoy Authors like Min Jin Lee and Julie Otsuka.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Adams

    I was IMMEDIATELY interested in this one when I saw it touted as the perfect read for lovers of Homegoing & multi generational sagas. While I believe it's impossible to live up to Homegoing, I did enjoy this one and loved the focus on Tibetan culture. Synposis below! This beautiful story flips between the lives of Lhamo & Tenkyi, two sisters living in a refugee camp in Nepal after the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and then ultimately, Lhamo's daughter, Dolma, living in Canada and pursuing a degree i I was IMMEDIATELY interested in this one when I saw it touted as the perfect read for lovers of Homegoing & multi generational sagas. While I believe it's impossible to live up to Homegoing, I did enjoy this one and loved the focus on Tibetan culture. Synposis below! This beautiful story flips between the lives of Lhamo & Tenkyi, two sisters living in a refugee camp in Nepal after the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and then ultimately, Lhamo's daughter, Dolma, living in Canada and pursuing a degree in Tibetan studies. Woven throughout this novel is incredible education about Tibetan culture (of which I knew embarassingly little). It explores the complexities of Tibetan identities, and the role of politics and religion on the characters worldviews. This is a character driven novel with a loose plot focused around a sacred object that reappears throughout Dolma & Lhamo's life. There's love, loss, struggle, triumph and heartbreak. While this had all of the ingredients that I normally love, I did find it to drag a little in the middle, but the flipping narratives & time periods helped! That said, I enjoyed learning about a story from a part of the world I'm not familiar with, and I'd love to know if you plan to read this one!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bookworm

    Borrowed on a whim from the library because it sounded interesting. It sounded fascinating: Lhamo and her younger sister Tenkyi survive a trip to a refugee camp at the border of Nepal while their parents did not. They must manage the struggle, the trauma, an eventual separation and what their experiences have meant for themselves, their families and the future. It seemed super interesting as a concept but I admit I ended up finding it really dull. Sometimes it felt like the book wasn't quite "set Borrowed on a whim from the library because it sounded interesting. It sounded fascinating: Lhamo and her younger sister Tenkyi survive a trip to a refugee camp at the border of Nepal while their parents did not. They must manage the struggle, the trauma, an eventual separation and what their experiences have meant for themselves, their families and the future. It seemed super interesting as a concept but I admit I ended up finding it really dull. Sometimes it felt like the book wasn't quite "settled" and needed more editing and/or more time to let sit (or perhaps it wasn't something that really works in this format to be shared). I struggled to maintain my interest. It probably didn't help that the book moves back and forth through time--perhaps an understandable choice but overall it just felt rather disjointed. I suppose in a way this is the point of the book and reflects the experiences of a refugee: never being quite settled, unable to actually settle in one place and a sadness for something that is gone forever and cannot be found or returned, etc. Overall it wasn't a read for book. I'm sure there are others who would find this a good pickup but I found this skippable overall. Library borrow for me was best.

  13. 4 out of 5

    redrover

    This book is really epic and compelling, and it taught me a lot about Tibet. The character development was really interesting. Overall, this book felt very crafted, woven together by the author’s connection to the subject and meticulous research. I think this novel has a lot of tragedy but also hope. And it centers women fully and unapologetically. At times the writing felt a heavy handed to me, and some motifs felt clumsy. These issues made the book less powerful and immersive. But I strongly r This book is really epic and compelling, and it taught me a lot about Tibet. The character development was really interesting. Overall, this book felt very crafted, woven together by the author’s connection to the subject and meticulous research. I think this novel has a lot of tragedy but also hope. And it centers women fully and unapologetically. At times the writing felt a heavy handed to me, and some motifs felt clumsy. These issues made the book less powerful and immersive. But I strongly recommend it. I can’t believe this is Tsering Yangzom Lama’s first novel, and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for what she does next.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David

    Wooofff this was quite a journey.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe Phelange

    What a joy it was to meet Tsering Lama in person, to hear about her personal journey through exile and displacement, and to read her debut novel for the first time. Her story reminds us that we never exist in isolation, that we are more connected to our ancestors than we think, and that our homelands are always within us, no matter where we physically end up. My heart aches for the people of Tibet and for all the indigenous people across time and space who were forcibly displaced.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mersadise

    It's been a long time since a book shattered my soul as deeply as this one did. Brilliantly written, and devastating stories, I think this is now one of my top 10 fav books It's been a long time since a book shattered my soul as deeply as this one did. Brilliantly written, and devastating stories, I think this is now one of my top 10 fav books

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aley Schiessl-Moore

    One of the best books I've read in the last couple years. Each character is distinct and feels so real. The effects of having a homeland torn from them, of multigenerational trauma, are evident even in observations about ants infesting an apartment. Emotional and beautifully written, and has also sent me on many rabbit holes learning about Tibet and Tibetan resistance. One critique is that I felt at times emotional impacts could have been given more room to breathe and be felt rather than moving One of the best books I've read in the last couple years. Each character is distinct and feels so real. The effects of having a homeland torn from them, of multigenerational trauma, are evident even in observations about ants infesting an apartment. Emotional and beautifully written, and has also sent me on many rabbit holes learning about Tibet and Tibetan resistance. One critique is that I felt at times emotional impacts could have been given more room to breathe and be felt rather than moving on to the next thing; similarly, the details are beautiful, but some could have been cut out in the interest of giving more time to big moments.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

    This book is a treasure. Beautifully written, lived, researched. The leaps between several points in time braid together in a way that leaves you with a multidimensional view of the story and the characters that left me with tender love for each of them.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Noryang

    What a journey it was reading this book. Beautiful! Moving!! Every page and context felt so familiar and at home. 🙏🏾

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This promises a journey into a little known chapter in history in a remote region of the earth. Unfortunately, the narrative is so heavy in the description of the spirits, demons, and beliefs experienced by the characters that it overwhelms the action, the dialog, and continuity of the narrative line. I started to skim (a bad sign) then gave up. Did not pull me in; not worth the effort. In the wake of China's invasion of Tibet in 1959, Lhamo and her younger sister Tenkyi arrive at a refugee camp This promises a journey into a little known chapter in history in a remote region of the earth. Unfortunately, the narrative is so heavy in the description of the spirits, demons, and beliefs experienced by the characters that it overwhelms the action, the dialog, and continuity of the narrative line. I started to skim (a bad sign) then gave up. Did not pull me in; not worth the effort. In the wake of China's invasion of Tibet in 1959, Lhamo and her younger sister Tenkyi arrive at a refugee camp on the border of Nepal. Lhamo and Tenkyi survived the dangerous journey across the Himalayas into exile, but their parents did not. Now, Lhamo-haunted by the loss of her homeland and the memory of her mother, a village oracle-is trying to rebuild a life amid a shattered community. Lhamo finds hope in the arrival of a young man named Samphel, whose uncle brings with him an ancient statue of a nameless saint-a statue last seen in their village and known for vanishing and reappearing in times of need. Decades later, the sisters are separated, and Tenkyi is living with Lhamo's daughter Dolma in Toronto. While Tenkyi works as a cleaner and struggles with traumatic memories, Dolma is vying for a place as a scholar of Tibet Studies. But when Dolma comes across the statue of the nameless saint in a collector's vault, she decides to reclaim it for her family and community, even if it means risking her dreams. Breathtaking in its scope and powerful in its intimacy, We Measure the Earth with our Bodies is a gorgeously written meditation on colonization, displacement, and the lengths we go to remain connected to our families and ancestral lands. Told through the lives of four people over fifty years, this novel provides a nuanced, moving portrait of the little-known world of Tibetan exiles.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Beautifully written, though not an easy book to follow because of its nonlinear storytelling. This emphasizes how time is not linear, how the past always affects the present and future. I will say, though, that I wished some parts were better explained, such as how Tenkyi ended up in Canada, and everything that happened with Samphel. The flow of the book was choppy, and once again, my pet peeve of introducing new characters halfway or two-thirds into the book shows up here, but maybe that was the Beautifully written, though not an easy book to follow because of its nonlinear storytelling. This emphasizes how time is not linear, how the past always affects the present and future. I will say, though, that I wished some parts were better explained, such as how Tenkyi ended up in Canada, and everything that happened with Samphel. The flow of the book was choppy, and once again, my pet peeve of introducing new characters halfway or two-thirds into the book shows up here, but maybe that was the point — that these people’s lives have been fragmented as seen in their memories. Is it any wonder, considering how they’ve been ripped apart from their homeland and from one another? I liked Dolma’s section, especially when Tsering shows how low-key dismissive and condescending Western academia is to other cultures. I also like the commentary on how museums pride on “educating” the masses by exhibiting stolen artifacts. My heart went out to Lhamo, and the way she yearned for Samphel. If only the two could have communicated! At the same time, they didn’t live during the Internet age, so correspondence was not as direct. Nice to know that Samphel loved her too. 🥺🥹 Though I did wonder during the scene where Samphel was looking forward to seeing Lhamo and their child Dolma, and Tenkyi intercepts him and discourages him from seeing them because of his crime selling antiquities; while she did this to protect her sister and niece, was it also a way to get back at Lhamo for marrying Tashi, Tenkyi’s former bf? On a minor note, very curious as to what butter tea tastes like. Looking forward to more of Tsering’s work.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shana

    ***Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review*** Deeply engaging and richly descriptive, this novel follows a Tibetan family from the Chinese invasion until the almost-present while largely focusing on Lhamo, a young girl who endures great hardship to resettle in a refugee camp in Nepal with her remaining family and community members. Given my sparse knowledge around this population, I reveled in the details around their cultural practices and spiritual beliefs. Tsering Yan ***Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review*** Deeply engaging and richly descriptive, this novel follows a Tibetan family from the Chinese invasion until the almost-present while largely focusing on Lhamo, a young girl who endures great hardship to resettle in a refugee camp in Nepal with her remaining family and community members. Given my sparse knowledge around this population, I reveled in the details around their cultural practices and spiritual beliefs. Tsering Yangzom Lama invites the reader to learn not just about the history, but to also consider the far-reaching effects of being a people in exile. The concept of home is disrupted as we are forced to consider what it means when you are prevented from returning there, or to even go there to begin with. The political ramifications have been considered in through other channels, and this novel provides the human aspect to it. For those who believe that Tibet is an issue of the past, this book will challenge that misconception.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    This is not a good book. First of all, it was so boring, it was a real struggle to get through it. I must admit I did some skimming. A good editor may have been able to save this mess, but as is, it's just ... bad. The storyline - insofar as there is one - and the character development - again: insofar as there is any - seem disconnected to the obvious political message. The characters and the story do not mesh. In my opinion, this novel doesn't give the reader anything, except for me, personall This is not a good book. First of all, it was so boring, it was a real struggle to get through it. I must admit I did some skimming. A good editor may have been able to save this mess, but as is, it's just ... bad. The storyline - insofar as there is one - and the character development - again: insofar as there is any - seem disconnected to the obvious political message. The characters and the story do not mesh. In my opinion, this novel doesn't give the reader anything, except for me, personally, a dislike of Tibet and everything Tibetan. Would have preferred a non-fiction on the topic.

  24. 5 out of 5

    BooksnFreshair (Poornima Apte)

    Absolutely fantastic! Starred review for Booklist.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    A slow read for me, but I found myself invested. I knew nothing about Tibet and Tibetans in exile; this is beautiful and I recommend.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Raquel Silva

    Loved the perspective of Tibet as a social cultural spiritual refugee not just a political stance.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    I have been on a lucky streak lately. This is a great novel bringing alive a story in Tibet. Had the good fortune of hearing read at the Odyssey Bookstore in South Hadley live.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn Tang

    Lyrical and humanizing, this is a book that gave me new eyes to see the world.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ana Saragoza

    I took the wrong international relations classes in undergrad because my knowledge about the Chinese invasion of Tibet was zero. This book was beautiful in its longing for home or some semblance of it. While I felt the book was unbalanced and unfinished, the prose sucked me in. I do recommend this book on the basis that the story was unique from what I normally read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Britt.and.Lit Book Reviews

    Brilliant new fiction spanning decades that follows two sisters (Lhamo and Tenkyi) and as they flee Tibet after the Chinese invasion. Now, as children they are facing the treacherous journey around the Himalayas and continuing to struggle to survive after settling in a refugee camp on the border of Nepal. The impact of the trauma the sisters faced is made more evident in the latter chapters following Lhamo’s grown daughter- who is living in Canada with her Aunt Tenkyi- and dealing with the psych Brilliant new fiction spanning decades that follows two sisters (Lhamo and Tenkyi) and as they flee Tibet after the Chinese invasion. Now, as children they are facing the treacherous journey around the Himalayas and continuing to struggle to survive after settling in a refugee camp on the border of Nepal. The impact of the trauma the sisters faced is made more evident in the latter chapters following Lhamo’s grown daughter- who is living in Canada with her Aunt Tenkyi- and dealing with the psychological impact of what they endured after leaving their small Tibetan village. The writing is brilliant and the author does a magnificent job painting the unforgiving landscape of the Himalayas as well as the beautiful relationship between the two sisters.

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