Alai’s “The Song of Gesar”: Abridged, Prose-driven Text and Lack of Annotations Disappoint

Here's one of the first reviews that I've seen of Howard Goldblatt's and Sylvia Li-chun Lin's rendering of Alai's The Song of Gesar, and one that I particularly enjoyed because reviewer Jim Murdoch is a Scottish writer who does his research, takes a stand and makes no claim to being a China hand: When this book … Continue reading Alai’s “The Song of Gesar”: Abridged, Prose-driven Text and Lack of Annotations Disappoint

King Gesar Update: Academics Congregate, but Septuagenarian Bard Struggles to Pass on the Tradition

One-third of the extant written versions of the Tibetan epic King Gesar (格萨尔王) make a reference to Maqu County in Gansu (玛曲), leading Chinese experts to believe it may be the historical birthplace of the epic. But according to a report on Chinanews.com (说唱传承人), only one bard residing there is capable of performing the saga. … Continue reading King Gesar Update: Academics Congregate, but Septuagenarian Bard Struggles to Pass on the Tradition

“The Shepherd’s Dream”: An Excerpt from Alai’s “King Gesar”

Several years ago, UK publisher Canongate commissioned contemporary ethnic Tibetan writer Alai to pen his own creative version of the King Gesar saga. The plan: to launch Alai's King Gesar (格萨尔王, 阿来著)  as part of its global Myth Series, joining other creatively re-told tales including The Penelopiad (Margaret Atwood’s take on Penelope of The Odyssey), Baba Yaga Laid an Egg (Baba Yaga as … Continue reading “The Shepherd’s Dream”: An Excerpt from Alai’s “King Gesar”

“Tibet Code”: China’s New Imaginary

In Inventing Chinese Mass Tourism to Tibet, we see the creative marketing of China's Tibet moving into high gear: The most recent and most spectacular staging of Tibetan history and culture, specifically intended for tourist consumption, was announced in 2013. Three mass entertainment companies combined in 2013 to turn the best selling Chinese fantasy book … Continue reading “Tibet Code”: China’s New Imaginary

Caixin’s “Day in the Life of a Beijing Black Guard”: Straight out of “Champa the Driver”

In January 2013, Beijing-based Chan Koonchung’s novel The Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver (《裸命》, 陈冠中) was published in Chinese in Hong Kong. The closing chapter recounts how a young, naïve Tibetan chauffeur from Lhasa proudly takes his first job in the capital, working in what he refers to as “Preserving Stability Hotel” (维稳宾馆). His … Continue reading Caixin’s “Day in the Life of a Beijing Black Guard”: Straight out of “Champa the Driver”

“Turkish Culture Year in China”: Bringing Orhan Pamuk to . . . Tibetan Speakers?

Tibet specialist Françoise Robin has kindly alerted me to the fact that the February 2013 Tibetan edition of National Literature Magazine (民族文学杂志,藏文版) features two pieces by Turkey’s Nobel Laureate, Orhan Pamuk. If your Tibetan is up to par, read about them here: མི་རིགས་ཀྱི་རྩོམ་རིག. One is apparently a speech by Pamuk that translates as “Eastern and Western … Continue reading “Turkish Culture Year in China”: Bringing Orhan Pamuk to . . . Tibetan Speakers?

Tibetan Epic “King Gesar” Published in 8-volume Chinese-language Edition

A comprehensive 8-volume, 2-million word translation of the Tibetan classic “King Gesar” (格萨尔王传) has just been published in Chinese by Higher Education Press (高等教育出版社), according to a report carried on China Ethnic Literature Network (中国民族文学网). The traditional Epic of King Gesar (Tibetan: གེ་སར་རྒྱལ་པོ), believed to date from the 12th century, relates the heroic deeds of Gesar, … Continue reading Tibetan Epic “King Gesar” Published in 8-volume Chinese-language Edition

Tsering Norbu’s “Amerika”: Village Life in 21st Century Tibet – with a Twist

Only a handful of Tibetans who write fiction in Chinese have seen their work published in English, but Tsering Norbu has recently joined this elite. Here’s a brief intro to his Amerika (阿米日嘎,次仁罗布著): A farmer in rural Tibet invests his life savings and more to purchase a breeding bull imported all the way from “Amerika” … Continue reading Tsering Norbu’s “Amerika”: Village Life in 21st Century Tibet – with a Twist

Mini-review: Gao Ping’s “Tsangyang Gyatso, The Sixth Dalai Lama “

Leave me to myself. Go away. I have had enough of your demands on me. I didn't ask for it. What right do you have to make me your Dalai Lama? What right do you have to make me a eunuch, while still leaving my body and passions intact? (From Paul Williams' The Erotic Verse of the … Continue reading Mini-review: Gao Ping’s “Tsangyang Gyatso, The Sixth Dalai Lama “

Newsweek via Cankao Xiaoxi: The Tibetans Have Never Had it So Good

In the run-up to Obama's White House meeting with the Dalai Lama, Isaac Stone Fish (Newsweek's Beijing correspondent) penned an interesting piece that argues that China's rule has indeed brought indisputable benefits to the Tibetans. It's all part of a grand "bargain": It's true that, so far, all the money has failed to buy Tibetan … Continue reading Newsweek via Cankao Xiaoxi: The Tibetans Have Never Had it So Good