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To a Mountain in Tibet
This is the account of a journey to the holiest mountain on earth, the solitary peak of Kailas in Tibet, sacred to one-fifth of humankind. To both Buddhists and Hindus it is the mystic heart of the world and an ancient site of pilgrimage. It has never been climbed. Even today, under Chinese domination, the people of four religions circle the mountain in devotion to different gods.
Colin Thubron reached it by foot along the Karnali River, the highest source of the Ganges. His journey is an entry into the culture of today's Tibet, and a pilgrimage in the wake his mother's death and the loss of his family. He undertakes it in order to mark the event, to leave a sign of their passage. He also explores his own need for solitude, which has shaped his career as a writerone who travels to places beyond his own history and culture, writing about them and about the journey. To a Mountain in Tibet is at once a powerful travelogue, a fascinated encounter with alien faith, and an intimate personal voyage.
It is a haunting and beautiful book, a rare mix of discovery and loss. In its evocation of landscape and variety of exotic peoples, of mythic and spiritual traditions foreign to our own, it is a spectacular achievement from our greatest living travel writer, an artist of formidable literary gifts, uncanny intuition, and wondrous insight.
About the Author
Colin Thubron is an acknowledged master of travel writing. His first books were about the Middle EastDamascus, Lebanon, and Cyprus. In 1982 he traveled in the Soviet Union, pursued by the KGB. From these early experiences developed his great travel books on the landmass that makes up Russia and Asia: Among the Russians; Behind the Wall: A Journey through China; The Lost Heart of Asia; In Siberia; and most recently, Shadow of the Silk Road.
Colin Thubron is an award-winning novelist as well as, arguably, the most admired travel writer of our time. He lives in London.
Praise for To a Mountain in Tibet…
“Thubron walks for the dead and writes for the living, and I can’t remember when I have been so thoroughly and deeply moved by an author’s outward journey.”
-Bob Shacochis, Boston Globe
“One of the greatest contemporary travel writers. . . . As he guides us along these braiding trails, Thubron’s moving evocation makes for an unforgettably enlightening journey.”
-National Geographic Traveler "Book of the Month"
“A powerful and hauntingly elegiac hybrid of travelogue and memoir”
“Engrossing and affecting…poignant evocations of his mother and sister, interwoven with his profound respect for the Tibetan culture and landscape, make Thubron’s memoir an utterly moving read.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The journey is the reward, for both writer and reader, in this rich, beautiful account of the landscape, people, culture, and politics of Tibet.”
-Booklist (starred review)
“Thubron has, as always, thoroughly researched his subject, so his descriptions of shadowy Buddhist shrines and wildly various religious supplicants are interspersed with eloquent accounts of Tibet’s place in the imaginings of the West...”
-New York Times Book Review
“Thubron has spent four decades writing in forceful and respectful ways of foreign lands, and To a Mountain in Tibet is no exception.”
-Wall Street Journal
“Like the works of Bruce Chatwin and Paul Theroux, Thubron’s gorgeous, evocative writing transcends the genre and reads like great literature.”
-Carmela Ciuraru, Readymade.com
“More meditative than his sweeping Shadow of the Silk Road. . . . Walking with Thubron up the sacred mountain, strenuous as it is at times, is well worth the effort.”
“With great elegiac precision…Thubron adroitly navigates the difficult line between an emotive personal memoir…and a vivid description of one of the most spectacular mountain journeys…”
-Times Literary Supplement (London)
“[Thubron has] been called one of the world’s greatest living travel writers. Few will doubt it, after they accompany him on this search for earthly sanctity.”
-Christian Science Monitor
“Thubron’s descriptive writing is as dazzling as the scenery. His scholarship on the area’s religious and political history is enthralling.”
“One of the greats of contemporary travel writing . . . Thubron’s transcendent prose places the reader directly on the path to Kailas, culminating with the final glimpse of the sacred site.”
“A masterpiece of travel writing...”
-Hugh Thomas, Telegraph
“Not only the most revealing book he has ever published but also the most profound. . . . The telling . . . is masterly, with that sharp poetic eye for detail that is Thubron at his best.”
-Charles Allen, Spectator
“Thubron is a versatile painter of place…an expert guide for the region’s complex topography…He is refreshingly clear and unintimidated…”
-Los Angeles Times
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