Stories of Tibet
SUNY Press 2018
New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in East Asian StudiesNew Books in FilmNew Books in Literary StudiesNew Books in LiteratureNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books Network February 19, 2019 Timothy Thurston
Though most renowned for his award-winning Tibetan films, Pema Tseden, is also a prolific author and translator. Enticement: Stories of Tibet (State University of New York Press, 2018) is a collection of Pema Tseden’s short stories edited and translated by Patricia Schiaffini-Vedani and Michael Monhart, with assistance from Southwest University’s Carl Robertson and INALCO’s Francoise Robin. Along with a translator’s introduction and author’s preface, the 10 short stories selected with input from the author himself range from the realistic to the fantastic. For the more realistic stories, lovingly playful descriptions of everyday Tibetan life bring a relatively apolitical look at contemporary Tibetan experience that defies simplistic interpretation. In the more fantastic stories, some of the same issues appear through descriptions that are stubbornly not realistic. Throughout the stories a narrative style and thematic influences from Tibetan oral traditions, his portrayal of media within media, and his tendency to use conclusions that do not lend a sense of finality to the stories create a reading experience that mirrors, in many ways the author’s unique cinematic storytelling style. This first ever English translation of Pema Tseden’s short stories provides a new way of approaching contemporary Tibet through the eyes of one of its most impressive storytellers.
Timothy Thurston is Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Leeds. His research examines language at the nexus of tradition and modernity in China’s Tibet.