The Newsletter 57 Summer 2011

Nagtsang Boy's Joys and Sorrows, or How China liberated the Tibetan grasslands

Niko Andric

Nagtsang Nulo’s Joys and Sorrows has enjoyed spectacular success among a Tibetan readership in China. Its influence reached the remotest corners of the reading world, places far from large cities with their well-supplied bookshops and titles emerging on the shelves soon after they leave the press. Nulo’s book was sold in the tiniest dusty shops in prefecture and county towns and villages, places where books do not change often and are not often bought. This book, however, was bought and read both by city dwellers and by Tibetans in rural communities in agricultural valleys and high on the Tibetan plateau. If titles existing in the shadowlands of the publishing world could be awarded a bestseller status, Nulo’s story deserved such. With this difference: his book was published with private money, as a private initiative, and sold, more often than not, from under the counter. It has never been part of the officially allowed and supported publishing world. Yet it was to be found in every other house: people read it, borrowed it or just kept it. Also those unfamiliar with books and reading, the illiterate if you will, appreciated its value.

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