October 24, 2011
A powerful, emotional memoir and an extraordinary portrait of three generations of Tibetan women whose lives are forever changed when Chairman Mao’s Red Army crushes Tibetan independence, sending a young mother and her six-year-old daughter on a treacherous journey across the snowy Himalayas toward freedom.
Kunsang thought she would never leave Tibet. One of the country’s youngest Buddhist nuns, she grew up in a remote mountain village where, as a teenager, she entered the local nunnery. Though simple, Kunsang’s life gave her all she needed: a oneness with nature and a sense of the spiritual in all things. She married a monk, had two children, and lived in peace and prayer. But not for long. There was a saying in Tibet: “When the iron bird flies and horses run on wheels, the Tibetan people will be scattered like ants across the face of the earth.” The Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950 changed everything. When soldiers arrived at her mountain monastery, destroying everything in their path, Kunsang and her family fled across the Himalayas only to spend years in Indian refugee camps. She lost both her husband and her youngest child on that journey, but the future held an extraordinary turn of events that would forever change her life–the arrival in the refugee camps of a cultured young Swiss man long fascinated with Tibet. Martin Brauen will fall instantly in love with Kunsang’s young daughter, Sonam, eventually winning her heart and hand, and taking mother and daughter with him to Switzerland, where Yangzom will be born.
Many stories lie hidden until the right person arrives to tell them. In rescuing the story of her now 90-year-old inspirational grandmother and her mother, Yangzom Brauen has given us a book full of love, courage, and triumph,as well as allowing us a rare and vivid glimpse of life in rural Tibet before the arrival of the Chinese. Most importantly, though, ACROSS MANY MOUNTAINS is a testament to three strong, determined women who are linked by an unbreakable family bond.
“This book paints a vivid picture of Tibetan experience over the last eight decades, one of the most difficult periods in our history. Through the personal stories of three women from one Tibetan family, it recalls the imposition of Chinese rule in Tibet and the subsequent efforts of many Tibetans to preserve their identity and treasured values in exile.”— His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
“A moving reminder that the consequences of the Chinese invasion of Tibet continue down to this day. A lovely memoir of three generations of Tibetan women.”~ Oliver Stone
“The lives of three women embody a tragic Tibetan era — at once grim and uplifting. A necessary book.”–Colin Thubron, author of To A Mountain in Tibet, Shadow of the Silk Road, and In Siberia
“Yangzom Brauen’s Across Many Mountains held my rapt attention from beginning to end. It is the saga that finally tells in vivid human terms the real story of the Chinese destruction of Tibet, the sixty-one-year long, continuing Tibetan holocaust and diaspora. It is historically, emotionally, humanly real, and no one can read it without opening a place in their heart for these long-suffering, brave, and yet joyful individuals. I heartily recommend this wonderful book.” –Robert A. F. Thurman, Professor, Columbia University; author of The Central Philosophy of Tibet, Wisdom and Compassion and Why the Dalai Lama Matters
The journey of the refugee–Cuban, Vietnamese, Libyan, Darfurian, and in the old days of the Cold War, East German and Hungarian–has special resonance for Americans because this country has provided sanctuary for refugees as far back as its founding. The drama is that of life and death and survival in exile. This stunning memoir is vivid and compelling, a clear-eyed rendering of the experience. A must read.”–Diane Wolff, author of Tibet Unconquered: An Epic Struggle for Freedom
“Yanzom Brauen recounts a gripping true story of her family and has kept alive the dreams of her grandmother.”–Kehdroob Thondup, co-author of Dalai Lama, My Son
“A multi-generational saga stitched together from memories passed down from her grandmother, Yangzom Brauen’s Across Many Mountains has the tragic, epic quality of Kenji Mizoguchi’s cinematic masterpiece, The Life of Oharu. With unadorned prose that is both searing and laced with verisimilitude, Brauen has written a book centered on the extraordinary journey of her grandmother that is one of both human suffering and perseverance in the face of it. Across Many Mountains is nothing short of a celebration of the human spirit.”–Rex Pickett, author of Vertical and Sideways
“The story of Kunsang and Sonam and Yangzom touches my heart because it brings back memories of life in Old Tibet. It tells the world exactly what it means to be a Tibetan refugee who loves her homeland deeply but at the same time is capable of adapting to life in the Western World. The courage and integrity and endurance of Kunsang and Sonam are astounding. I thank Yangzom for telling their story. I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to know about the real situation in Tibet.”–Arjia Rinpoche, Director, Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center and author of Surviving the Dragon
“Yangzom Brauen’s Across Many Mountains, a triumphant tale of three generations of Tibetan women as they journey from Tibet to Switzerland, teaches us that there is much to learn from those who persevere in the face of injustice and the unknown. The courage of these women as they cross borders and learn the language of survival gives us insight into a country that remains a mystery to many, as well as enlightens the even vaster landscape of the human heart.”–Kim Sunée, New York Times bestselling author of Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home
“An absorbing, multilayered account of the evolution of an enduring culture.”–Kirkus Reviews
“If this was a movie you might accuse the writers of taking too many liberties with the truth. How could a young nun and young monk marry as Tibetan Buddhists? How could their young daughter survive the perils of a dangerous escape through the snow covered Himalayas and go on to marry a dashing Swiss academic? And then their daughter becomes the perfect blend of freedom activist and gorgeous Hollywood starlet–it defies belief. But not only is the tale that Yangzom Brauen weaves of three very different yet integrally connected generations a satisfying read, I guarantee that you will learn more about the struggle for Tibetan independence, the complexities of the Tibet-China relationship, and the principles of Tibetan Buddhism than you will glean from any Westerners’ account. If you value exceptional storytelling, I urge you to read this book. If you care about human rights, women’s issues and world peace, you must read this book.”–Christal Smith, The Huffington Post
“…a lyrical account of how cultures can mesh and enrich each other.” — Bookreporter
About Yangzom Brauen
Born in 1980 to a Swiss father and Tibetan mother,YANGZOM BRAUEN is an actress, model, and political activist. She lives in both Los Angeles and Berlin and has appeared in a number of German and American films. She is also very active in the Free Tibet movement, making regular radio broadcasts about Tibet and organizing public demonstrations against the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
Visit her Web site at www.yangzombrauen.com.
Filed under: New Biographies 2011