Jonathan Mirsky

Keeping the Faith

Across Many Mountains: Three Daughters of Tibet

By

Harvill Secker 324pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

This book presents three generations of women: Kunsang, a married Tibetan nun now in her nineties who never let anyone see her unclothed; Sonam, her daughter, who was carried out of Tibet on Kunsang’s back when she was six, married a Swiss in India and now lives in New York; and Yangzom, Kunsang’s half-Tibetan, half-Swiss granddaughter and the author of this book. Yangzom is also an actress: as part of her ‘performance art’ in a Berne drama school she placed over fifty snails on her naked body so that they looked like a dress. We owe Yangzom, who in addition to her career in the theatre was once president of the European Tibetan Youth Congress, much gratitude. She has given an unvarnished, affectionate picture of Kunsang, a traditional Tibetan woman born long before the Chinese occupation in 1950.

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