Filling a Void: Five Contemporary Tibetan Novelists Published in Tibetan 

藏语首部母语长篇小说丛书 青海民族出版社In Mother-tongue Literature, I posed these questions about one Han scholar’s call for celebrating writing in China’s indigenous languages:

Who is going to write in their native language — or read what is written for that matter — if they cannot receive a decent education in it?

Those weighty questions remain unanswered, but happily, some publishers are pushing ahead to make more such fiction available to potential readers. According to a May 19 news report (藏语首部母语长篇小说丛书), a new five-volume series of novels in Tibetan has just been launched by Qinghai Nationalities Publishing (青海民族出版社). A similar item has now appeared in English (First Collection).

The promotional material states that this is the first such collection of contemporary novels in Tibetan. This may just be advertising hype, but if true, it indicates that Tibetan authors are either not writing a lot of novels in their mother tongue . . . or they couldn’t previously find publishers!

The titles and authors are as follows:

My Two Fathers by Tsering Dondrup (ཚེ་རིང་དོན་གྲུབ།, 次仁顿珠)

Yesterday’s Tribe by Tenpa Yargye (བསྟན་པ་ཡར་རྒྱས།, 旦巴亚尔杰)

Waning Crescent by Tsering Tashi (ཚེ་རིང་བཀྲ་ཤིས།,才让扎西)

Falling Stones by Phurbu Tsering (ཕུར་བུ་ཚེ་རིང་།,普布次仁)

Grand Ditch by Gangnyön (གངས་སྨྱོན།, 宽太加)

For a graphic which lists all works and authors in both Chinese and Tibetan (sorry, I can’t reproduce too clearly!), visit here.

For those of you who — like me — don’t read Tibetan, Françoise Robin (Associate Professor of Tibetan language and Literature at INALCO, France) has kindly provided me with a link to the bilingual (English and Tibetan) Latse Library Newsletter. Click here to download for free. This issue features articles on these subjects:

  • Tibetan Novels: Still A Novelty. A Brief Survey of Tibetan Novels since 1985. (By Françoise Robin)
  • An introduction to author Tsering Dondrup and an English excerpt from his novel, The Red Wind Scream (translated by Dr. Heather Stoddard)

Comments

  1. Francoise Robin says:

    This is good news. So far only 25 novels in Tibetan have been published in Tibet (+ a handful in exile), so the addition of 5 novels is important. When I was in Xining last summer I talked to the editors and they said that the aim of this collection was to convince other potential Tibetan novel writers to submit manuscripts.

    Regarding the authors, a few more details: Tsering Dondrup (ཚེ་རིང་དོན་གྲུབ།) is the most prolific of Tibetan novel writers, with 5 novels so far (this one included). He is a Tibetan of Mongolian ancestry but only writes in Tibetan; seldom in Chinese; never in Mongolian (which he does not know). Tenpa Yargye (བསྟན་པ་ཡར་རྒྱས།) is from Nagchu (ནག་ཆུ།) and has written a first novel, very interesting, called The Faraway Black Tent (ཐག་རིང་གི་སྦྲ་ནག, 2005, Beijing) on what appears to be a similar topic. As for Grand Ditch by Kuan Taijia, the Tibetan title seems to be The Mule Valley and the author’s name is Gangnyön (གངས་སྨྱོན།), a pseudonym meaning “The Crazy one from the Snow”.

  2. Anna GC says:

    Very interesting, thank you! I read some of Tsering Dondrup’s short stories in Chinese and even translated one (from English, I think) many years ago. I really liked his writing. Maybe I should brush up on my extremely bad Tibetan to read more … It’s also interesting how Chinese authors writing on Tibet seem to exoticise Tibetan culture and religion (in novels like The Tibet Code) while a Tibetan writer like Tsering Dondrup can be quite critical.

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