In this collection of short stories, heart-breaking and heart-warming in equal measure, the lives of displaced Tibetans building new homes in India are chronicled with rare nuance. The eleven stories are divided into the five colours of the Tibetan prayer flag: in Blue (Sky), ‘Zinda’ is the name of the Tibetan village which a child has to escape after Chinese occupation, returning only as a young man to this unfamiliar motherland after a bittersweet surprise. Mariko, the former monk protagonist in White (Air), shatters expectations by becoming a beauty icon and dancer. ‘In the Footsteps of Buddha’s Warriors’ from Red (Fire) tells the story of the Chushi Gangdruk, the forgotten Tibetan guerrilla group which fought bravely from Nepal for an independence which never arrived.
Madhu Gurung writes evocatively and with deep empathy about the Tibetan community’s struggles and success, despair and hope, and the fabric of family and identity that stretches and dissolves and knits itself back in new configurations.
‘A collection of vivid and deeply emotional stories… [that] deals with issues of identity and belonging, allowing one to experience the hope, pain, and remarkable perseverance of a people and region that are at risk of being forgotten.’—Shashi Tharoor
‘This kaleidoscope of stories is a moving and immersive account of dreams and memories. Based on deep research and interaction with the Tibetan community, it documents an era of unsettling change and the shared past that anchors them.’—Namita Gokhale
‘These stories of exile and resistance offer poignant and intimate observations on the human dimensions of a Himalayan tragedy. Madhu Gurung’s writing traverses difficult terrain but makes the journeys as memorable as the destinations.’—Stephen Alter