Translated by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping
2012, 266 pages
ISBN 978-1-937385-08-8 Paper $23.00
ISBN 978-1-937385-09-5 Cloth $45.00
"Weaving together a rich portrayal of social relations, a strong connection with nature, and the folklore that animates the distinctive daily life of modern Tibet, Alai's stories open the door to a striking vision and an original fictional voice. The stories in Tibetan Soul, expertly translated from Chinese, are a welcome addition to the English-language body of this fascinating contemporary writer."
—Wendy Larson, Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures,
University of Oregon
. . . Alai brings his myriad of experiences as a Tibetan to this collection of short stories. He combines elements of traditional folklore with modern life, giving a rich portrait of the varied culture in his homeland.”
—World Literature Today
“. . . The twelve short stories collected here are mostly set in Tibetan villages and reveal a distinct and striking vision of Tibetan realities. Realistic yet graceful, Alai’s writings introduce his readers to life and death, love and hatred, compassion and alienation, courage and ambition, belief and quest in that mysterious and alluring region, words that transverse the expanse of space and touch our hearts.”
Alai has said that he seeks to demystify Tibet and to depict the Tibetan reality (the "noun" rather than the "adjectivized" Tibet offered by some outsiders). The stories collected here present various Tibetan realities, some drawn from legends, others inspired by daily life, by his home village, and by his extensive travels through the region. Alai does not believe that his works can represent all Tibetan people.
In addition, Alai gives voice and substance to a number of themes common to all of humanity—birth and death, love and friendship, parting, religious beliefs, compassion, hatred, courage, alienation, ambition, and quest. In some of his stories, he also shows Tibetans caught between two cultures—the Tibetan and the Chinese.
Alai's vivid, graceful writing allows readers to enter into the stories and to come away from them with a better understanding of what it means to be Tibetan—both in the past and today. The stories also provide readers with a better understanding of the human condition everywhere.
Set in Tibetan—and occasionally Chinese—landscapes, these stories reach beyond their specific locales to touch persons everywhere.
The Tibetan writer Alai lives in Chengdu, Sichuan. He has written a number of short stories, and the three novels Chen'ai luoding (Red Poppies), Kongshan (Empty Mountain); and King Gesar, a retelling of an ancient myth.
Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping are the translators of Can Xue, Blue Light in the Sky & Other Stories (2006), Can Xue, Five Spice Street, (2009), and White Poppies and Other Stories by Zhang Kangkang (2011).