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.
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).
Descriptions of the Altai mountains, remarkable sky, and closeness to the flock are slow but rich. The book is filled with small pleasures.
Tschinag's beautiful descriptions of his stark and remote mountain homeland and the emotion he evokes through details about the family's daily life will make readers eager for the next installments of Tschinag's tale: The Grey Earth and The White Mountain.
Booklist - Donna Seaman
In this pristine and concentrated tale of miraculous survival and anguished loss, Tschinag evokes the nurturing warmth of a family within the circular embrace of a yurt as an ancient way of life lived in harmony with nature becomes endangered.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by NRL superb writing! Galsan has such an unique style of writing. Being able to write in a foreign language, yet to describe the life of nomad people, is incredible!
The book makes you realize that you're who you are, especially coming from the part of the world and... Read More
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 themselves as Tuvan.
Tschinag writes in The Caravan
that the Mongolian majority's regard for
the Tuvans brings to mind the Chinese's
regard for the Tibetans or the Russians
for Chechnya. While an additional
200,000 Tuvans live in China, the vast...
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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