Dearest books: “Across Many Moutains” by Yangzom Brauen

I found this book at a local used bookstore here in Boulder called Trident Books and Cafe. It was wedged in the lower corner of a shelf between the few other books on Tibet the small shop had (I was surprised at the amount they did have, seeing as it isn’t a huge bookstore). I picked it up. I study anthropology and the book looked like the story of Tibetan women written by Tibetan women, which is the lens through which I wish to understand Tibet.

This story is magnificent. Beginning with Kunsang, the author’s grandmother or “Mola,” Yangzom Brauen described the beauty and deep spirituality of old Tibet, vividly painting a picture of humble monks and nuns, sacred monasteries, and the stark Himalayas. Yangzom continues to tell the story of her mother, Sonam’s, birth and the encroachment of the Chinese political domination.

The family is forced to flee Tibet, traveling a dangerous route through the Himalayas to reach India. Yangzom’s description of her mother, grandmother, and other Tibetans’ lives in India is, beyond anything, devastatingly eye-opening.

Yangzom herself is an activist and an actress, finding ways of blending the two into a lifetime movement to free Tibet from Chinese oppression. Her recounting of the trials Tibetan refugees have been forced through and the incredible wonder of old Tibetan culture is indescribably necessary to read. She truly opens up the world of Tibetan culture, religion, and politics to someone like myself, who is ignorant yet curious, which is what she meant to do.

This book has brought me incredible awareness of a part of the world which, as Yangzom notes, most Westerners cannot even identify on a map. My heart is stolen by this culture, and this will not be even nearly the last book I read about Tibet.

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