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An Extraordinary Year in Tibet, An Extraordinary Book,
This review is from: A Year in Tibet (Hardcover)If you care about Tibet, read this book. It is a real eye-opener. I watched the documentary series Sun Shuyun directed - also called A Year in Tibet - that was shown on BBC4 in March this year. I found it fascinating, and somewhat surprising. Despite the heavy press coverage about Tibet recently, we actually know very little beyond the headlines. It is here that A Year in Tibet, both the television series and the book, makes a genuine contribution to our understanding of the daily lives and struggles of the Tibetans.
It helps that Sun and her crew of Tibetans and Chinese actually spent a year living among the Tibetans in a rented Tibetan house without running water and with an outside loo. We see the woman married to three brothers who explains how she copes with her husbands; the bride who only learned about her marriage to two brothers on her wedding day; the village priest who spits on his patients' faces to cure their toothache; the doctor who cares for 5000 villagers with only two years' training and in a poorly equipped clinic; the monastery which was burgled and investigated by the police not only for the theft but for any political dissent.
But A Year in Tibet is not just a book that accompanies a major television series. It goes much deeper, exploring intimate personal stories that shed light on the Tibetan situation. Sun is well aware of the pain of the past and the present: three members of the village priest family were forced to marry and abandon their calling; they even had to spy on and denounce each other. Today the children have to struggle to be educated in Tibetan, and their parents find it hard to make a living amid the growing Chinese presence. She makes you see why the Tibetans are so angry. Sun, a Chinese herself, even had this anger burst out at her. "Bloody Chinese, go home. Who wants you here?" But her warmth, her honesty, her open-mindedness, and her love for the people and their culture finally won her their trust.
This is a rare book that informs you, moves you, and inspires you. Quite an achievement, given the sensitive nature of the issue.