The debut of a major voice in contemporary world literature.
In the high Altai Mountains of northern Mongolia, the nomadic Tuvan peoples ancient way of life collides with the pervasive influence of modernity as seen through the eyes of a young shepherd boy. The confrontation comes in stages. First his older siblings leave the family yurt to attend a distant boarding school. Then the boys grandmother dies, and with her the boys connection to the tribes. But the greatest tragedy strikes when his dog, Arsylangall that was left to medies after ingesting poison set out by the boys father to protect his herd from wolves. Why is it so? he cries out in despair to the Heavenly Blue Sky, but he is answered only by the silence of the wind.
Rooted in the oral traditions of the Tuvan people and their epics, Galsan Tschinag's novel weaves the timeless story of a boy poised on the cusp of manhood with it the tale of a people's vanishing way of life.
The Blue Sky
Then disaster hit our ail, our yurt, me: I fell into the kettle, into the
It happened the evening Grandma rode off to get my future flock and bring it into the hürde for me. Mother had poured the fresh milk into the cast-iron kettle for boiling and, because the fire was burning too high, had taken the kettle off the oshuk and temporarily put it on the three chunks of dung lying next to it.
Then she left the yurt again to tether the calves since the yak herd had just returned from pasture. In the meantime, Father was busy outside with the lambs, along with Brother and Sister. Even though I was not yet changed and prepared for the night, I had, as often before, been overcome by tiredness, had crashed in the middle of playing, and lay now asleep on the low bed. Mother was about to sneak up and catch the last fugitive calf when she heard my screams. She became alarmed but tried to calm herself by reasoning I was ...
Galsan Tschinag's autobiographical story of a boy living on the Mongolian steppes (prairies) in the 1950s offers an evocative glimpse into a way of life in which the nomadic people live in harmony with their awesome (in the literal sense) surroundings, worshiping the sky as sacred. It is a record of a time that was already vanishing (but, thanks in part to Tschinag and others, is now being not just preserved but lived once again).
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (1210 words).
To reach the homeland of the Tsengel Tuvans one has to travel to the furthest western
corner of Mongolia, to the
High Altai mountains to a province the size of the
Netherlands, bordering China. More than 90%
of the population of the area are Kazakh
Muslims, the remaining 10% are Khalkh,
Urinakhai, Khoshuud and Tuvans.
The Tuvans are a Turkic-speaking people (i.e. their spoken language belongs to the Turkic family; other Turkic speaking countries include Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and, of course, Turkey). Today, about 4,000 of Mongolia's approx 2.3 million population identify ...
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Born on the tundra in the 1950s, Victoria knows nothing but the nomadic life of the Inuit until, at the age of ten, she is diagnosed with tuberculosis and evacuated to a southern sanitarium. When she returns home six years later, she finds a radically different world, where the traditionally rootless tribes have uneasily congregated in small ...
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