A Year In Tibet
Here is a book that really gives you a feel for how 'ordinary' Tibetans live. It is written by Sun Shuyun, who directed the recent BBC series, A Year in Tibet.
The book goes much deeper than the film did, looking at the issues of modern Tibet through Sun's personal contact with the people she got to know during her year of filming.
From all of these encounters, Sun comes away with a much more profound appreciation of the degree to which faith and tradition lies at the very heart of most Tibetans lives. And, of course, it is exactly this deep faith and the millennia of unbroken traditions that are now under threat, due to the rapid influx of Chinese migrants and the mandatory use of Mandarin in the school systems.
Whereas Sun, a Han Chinese, was not exempt from some first-hand experiences of the anger of the Tibetans, it seems that her sensitivity to the issues confronting most Tibetans and her deep respect for the local traditions allowed her access to the thoughts and feelings of her Tibetan contacts to an unprecedented degree.
From a political point of view, it is worth noting how deftly Sun's account of her year in Tibet has been written. There is no propaganda and no polemic. Instead, by concentrating on the lives of a series of individuals, she is able to tell stories in such a way that reader is left free to interpret them as he or she wishes.
As a result, it is a valuable and timely book to read because, basically, it really does what it claims - it provides you with some very rare insights into the lives of real Tibetans.