Wednesday, December 8, 2010

High Peaks Pure Earth Winter 2010 Reading List

High Peaks Pure Earth has updated the Summer holiday reading list to create the Winter 2010 reading list! We first started this reading list last year and have received positive feedback and also some suggestions.

With these reading lists, High Peaks Pure Earth recommends books for those interested in Tibet and particularly in Tibetan literature in translation. Click on the links below to see the books on Amazon.

If you have read any of these books, leave a comment or short review...if you have any of your own recommendations, please let us know!

On Tibet and Tibetan Literature:

Published in September 2010 by Duke University Press, "Arrested Histories" tells the little-known story of the Tibetan resistance army's war against China and relates its omission from narratives of Tibetan national history to the production of community, history and nation within the Tibetan exile community.

Published in September 2010 by Amperley Publishing, Birgit van de Wijer has transcribed original interviews with forty-eight members of Chushi Gangdruk who were engaged with armed struggle against the Chinese. The book is the result of two years' work with dozens of Tibetans involved and is in two parts, the first part is the historical background and the second part is made up of background to the interviews followed by the interviews themselves.

Published in October 2010 by Palgrave Macmillan, in "Tibet Unconquered" East Asia expert Diane Wolff explores the vast history of Chinese-Tibetan relations, tracing the long and tangled history of the two nations from the days of the Mongol invasion, to the emergence of the Dalai Lama in the fifteenth century, and up to the contentious twentieth century.

Published in June 2008 by Duke University Press, "Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change" provides an overview of modern Tibetan literature (literature from the last 30 years). This collection of essays brings together fourteen Tibetan literary scholars who examine the literary output of Tibetan authors writing in Tibetan, Chinese, and English, both inside and outside Tibet. 

Published in June 2009 by Columbia University Press, "The Culture of the Book in Tibet" is the first volume to trace the singular history of the book in Tibetan culture as material, intellectual and symbolic object.

The Struggle for Tibet by Wang Lixiong and Tsering Shakya

Published in November 2009 by Verso Books, "The Struggle for Tibet" features two leading Chinese and Tibetan intellectuals in a landmark exchange of views. Additionally, Wang and Shakya each offer their analyses of the 2008 events in Tibet.

"Lhasa: Streets with Memories" by Robert Barnett

Published by Columbia University Press in July 2010, this is the paperback edition of the 2006 hardback that explores Lhasa lyrically and powerfully. Robert Barnett delves into Lhasa's past, the buildings and the city streets, interwoven with his own recollections of unrest and resistance. To read more about the book go to this page of the Columbia University Press website.

Tibet's Last Stand?: The Tibetan Uprising of 2008 and China's Response by Warren W. Smith

Published in November 2009 by Rowman and Littlefield, "Tibet's Last Stand?" is the first book-length analysis of the 2008 Tibetan protests.

Published by Brill's Tibetan Studies Library in November 2009, this is the much awaited English edition of Shakabpa's two volume history book originally written in Tibetan and translated and annotated by Derek F. Maher.

Published in October 2009 by University of Washington Press, "Sky Train: Tibetan Women on the Edge of History" combines personal narrative with modern Tibetan history based on the perspective of Tibetan women. The author travelled in Tibet in 2007 and interviewed Tibetan women from all walks of life both inside and outside Tibet.

*Update December 9, 2010: This book won the PEN American Center Award 2010

Authenticating Tibet: Answers to China's 100 Questions by Anne-Marie Blondeau and Katia Buffetrille

Published in March 2008 by University of California Press, "Authenticating Tibet" collects balanced responses by international scholars to 100 Questions about Tibet and the Dalai Lama that provide an accurate, historically based assessment of Tibet's past and present.

Published by International Campaign for Tibet and launched in October 2009 at the Frankfurt International Book Fair, "Like Gold that Fears no Fire" is a new collection of writings by Tibetans inside Tibet and opens with an original article by Woeser. The publication can be downloaded from this page on the ICT website.

"Murder in the High Himalaya" by Jonathan Green

Published by Public Affairs in June 2010, "Murder in the High Himalaya" tells the true story of two young Tibetan women who decided in August 2006 to escape Chinese rule in Tibet and flee to Dharamsala, India. Through a secretive underground network of Tibetan guides, the two friends, along with four dozen other refugees, embarked on a perilous journey that would lead them to Nepal along a dangerous former trade route: the Nangpa La Path, through Cho Oyu Mountain. On September 30, 2006, after weeks of harrowing travel, as they were nearing the border of Nepal, the band of refugees was fired at by the Chinese Army Guards. Kelsang, sick, frost-bitten, and delirious in the high altitude was struck by a bullet from behind. This event was witnessed by a group of Western mountain climbers including Sergui Matei, a Romanian hiker, who captured Kelsang's murder on video.

The murder of a young Tibetan nun by the hands of Chinese border guards at the rooftop of the world offers a unique parable for the tale of modern Tibet. Read an extract that was published in the Daily Mail in the UK here.

"Uncompromising Truth for a Compromised World - Tibetan Buddhism and Today's World" by Samdhong Rinpoche

Published by World Wisdom Books in October 2006, this is a series of in-depth interviews with the present Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche on his views on politics, religion, philosophy and non-violence.

"Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China" By Thomas Mullaney

Although "Coming to Terms with the Nation" is not strictly only about Tibet, High Peaks Pure Earth recommends this book for insights into ethnic classification in China. Published in November 2010 by University of California Press, the book looks at the history of China's 1950s ethnic classification project.

Thanks to the great blog The China Beat for drawing our attention to this book!

Tibetan Poetry in Translation:

The Nine-Eyed Agate: Poems and Stories by Jangbu, Translated by Heather Stoddard

Published at the end of July 2010, The Nine-Eyed Agate is a collection of poetry and stories by Chenagtsang Dorje Tsering, alias Jangbu. More information from the publishers, Lexington Books, here.

Tibet's True Heart: Selected Poems by Woeser, Translated by A.E Clark

Published in 2008 by Ragged Banner Press, "Tibet's True Heart" is the first collection of poetry in a single volume by Woeser in English. Sample poems from the volume can be read on the website of Ragged Banner and the High Peaks Pure Earth review of the volume can be read here.

In the Forest of Faded Wisdom: 104 Poems by Gendun Chopel, Translated by Donald S. Lopez Jr.

Published in November 2009 by University of Chicago Press, "In the Forest of Faded Wisdom" is a collection of new translations of poetry by Gendun Chopel from Tibetan into English. Gendun Chopel wrote poetry throughout his life and this volume is a good introduction to one of Tibet's foremost twentieth-century cultural figures.

Tibetan Literature in Translation:

Tales of Tibet: Sky Burials, Wind Horses and Prayer Wheels by Herbert Batt (ed.)

Published in July 2001 by Rowman And Littlefield, "Tales of Tibet" brings together fiction on Tibet in translation by Tibetan and Chinese writers such as Tashi Dawa and Alai.

Published in November 2000 by Paljor Publications, this volume of short stories is still one of the few publications that offer English translations of work by Tibetan writers such as Dhondup Gyal, Tenpa Yargya and Tashi Palden.

Song of the Snow Lion: New Writing from Tibet (Manoa 12:2) by Frank Stewart (ed.)

Published in October 2000 by University of Hawaii Press, "Song of the Snow Lion" features fiction, poetry and essays from Tibet and an overview essay by guest co-editor Tsering Shakya.

Biography / Autobiography:

Jesuit on the Roof of the World: Ippolito Desideri's Mission to Tibet by Trent Pomplin

Published in October 2009 in USA and to be published in January 2010 in UK by Oxford University Press, "Jesuit on the Roof of the World" is the first full-length study in any language of Ippolito Desideri (1684-1733), a Jesuit explorer and missionary who travelled in Tibet from 1715 to 1721. 

Published in February 2008 by Columbia University Press, Khetsun's autobiography was translated into English by Matthew Akester. In his book, Khetsun describes everyday life in Lhasa after 1959 based on his personal experiences firstly in prison and labour camps and then later during the launch of the Cultural Revolution. The book also contains several photographs taken by Woeser's father, Tsering Dorjee, during the Cultural Revolution in Tibet.

Surviving the Dragon: A Tibetan Lama's Account of 40 Years Under Chinese Rule by Arjia Rinpoche

Published in March 2010 by Rodale Books, Surviving the Dragon is the life story of Arjia Rinpoche. At age two, Arjia Rinpoche was recognised as the incarnation of the founder of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism and was made the abbot of Kumbum Monastery. He relates witnessing the torture and arrest of his monastic family as a young boy. In the years to come he managed to survive under harsh Communist rule, as he was forced into hard labour and had to endure public humiliation as part of Mao's Communist "reeducation".

After the death of Mao he rose to prominence within the Chinese Buddhist bureaucracy with the help of the Panchen Lama. In doing so, he was coerced into publically supporting China's increasingly anti-Tibet agenda, including taking part in carefully orchestrated rituals engineered to undermine the authority of the Dalai Lama. Spiritually and morally depleted, Rinpoche eventually escaped and now lives in America. Read an extract from the book here.

Tibetan Fiction in English:

Falling Through the Roof by Thubten Samphel

Although not a work of translation, High Peaks Pure Earth recommends this first piece of fiction by Thubten Samphel (born in Tibet, educated in India) that was published in early 2009 by Rupa & Co and focuses on a group of Tibetan students at Delhi University. Following on from Tsewang Pemba's 1966 work Idols on the Path and Jamyang Norbu's The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes: The Missing Yearspublished in 2002, Samphel is the third exile Tibetan to tackle the novel form in English. Read a review of "Falling Through the Roof" from Himal magazine on the website TibetWrites.

Lastly, a DVD:

This is not a book (!) but the DVD of "The Sun Behind the Clouds" is included in this list as it has been recently been released in the States by Zeitgeist Films. The film by Tenzing Sonam and Ritu Sarin features familiar faces to regular readers of High Peaks Pure Earth, such as an interview with Tibetan writer and poet Woeser and features the case of Lama Jigme. The activist Tenzin Tsundue also features prominently, High Peaks Pure Earth translated a poem by Amdo poet Gade Tsering that was dedicated to him.


Anonymous said...

What a great service this reading list! Thanks for doing it. When you update, you might want to note that Sky Train: Tibetan Women On the Edge of History (my book) won the PEN American Center award for 2010.
Sincerely, Canyon Sam

High Peaks Pure Earth said...

We have updated the entry on your book, thank you very much for letting us know. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...


Some interesting ones may be Alai's 'Red Poppies' (尘埃落定) or the 'Tibet Code" by He Ma (I think it has been translated, I am not entirely sure but in Chinese it's 藏地密码.


Anonymous said...

Some of the books you have chosen are terrible, both in content and language. So please do read or ask people who are aware of the books before you list them in so called the book of the year or whatsoever.