In his new book, Colin Thubron travels to Tibet, and takes the pilgrimage route to Kailas, the most sacred of the world's mountains, holy to one fifth of the earth's people, but rarely visited by westerners. Buddhists and Hindus have ritually circled the mountain for centuries, but its steepest slopes are sacrosanct and no one has ever climbed to the summit. Thubron made the expedition shortly after his mother's death, and his hike through a challenging terrain of rocks, lakes and remote monasteries is perhaps one of his most personal and poetic books to date.
Colin Thubron is an acknowledged master of travel writing, and the winner of many prizes and awards. His first writing was about the Middle East - Damascus, Lebanon and Cyprus. In 1982 he travelled into the Soviet Union in an ancient Morris Marina, pursued by the KGB, a journey he recorded in Among the Russians. From these early experiences developed his classic travel books- Behind the Wall (winner of the Hawthornden Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Award), The Lost Heart of Asia, In Siberia (Prix Bouvier) and Shadow of the Silk Road (all available in Vintage).In 2010 Colin Thubron became President the Royal Society of Literature.
Best-selling author Thubron's approach to this book differs slightly from that of his other work (e.g., Shadow of the Silk Road). His mother, last of the family, passed away as he began this extraordinary journey. Mount Kailash, a mountain sacred to Buddhists and Hindus, has never been climbed, only circumambulated. It is similar to the Ganges or Mecca-followers want to visit or be buried there. Thubron quotes monks, pilgrims, porters, guides, and fellow travelers to enliven his work. He vividly describes the physical world he treks-e.g., he writes, "yaks have shabby petticoats and their tread is slow, almost delicate." More moving are his profiles of people who make the journey in thin shoes and flimsy clothing. They are joyous despite suffering, loss, and the dislocation of everything they value. Verdict Thubron's own journey of grief and his search for understanding heightens his experience and augments his descriptions of believers he observes. This personal narrative will enrich readers interested in memoir, travel, and Tibet. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/10.]-Susan Baird, formerly with Oak Lawn P.L., IL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
"The mountain path is the road of the dead," writes Thubron (Shadow of the Silk Road) in this engrossing and affecting travel memoir that transcends the mere physical journey. In the wake of his mother's death, Thubron sets off to Mount Kailas in Tibet, a peak sacred to one-fifth of the world's population and the source of four of India's great rivers. Kailas has never been climbed: the slopes are important to Tibetan Buddhists who say the mountain's guardian is Demchog (a tantric variant of Shiva). Along with two guides, Thubron embarks on a pilgrimage that begins in Nepal and crosses into Tibet, recounting not only his arduous journey but also the political and cultural history of Tibet and the West's continued fascination with its mysticism. Along the way, he observes pilgrims of various religions converging on Kailas and the myriad monasteries, most of which were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and rebuilt decades later. It is the poignant evocations of his mother and sister (who died at 21), interwoven with his profound respect for the Tibetan culture and landscape that make Thubron's memoir an utterly moving read. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"A master class in travel writing... Thubron showcases here all the skills that have earned him the champion's belt as Britain's best living travel writer." --"Sunday Times" "Exquisitely written, To a Mountain in Tibet""is not just a travelogue; it amounts to a heart-felt hosanna to the travails of walking... a matchless work of literary travel, [it] confirms Thubron as a wise and discriminate prospector in the affairs of man." --"Irish Times"" ""This is a bold and brave journey, an elegiac book by a master of prose at the height of his powers." --"Evening Standard" "Given that Thubron has shown himself over a lifetime's work to be our finest, is seems fitting that what is as much memoir as travel book should have as its setting the greatest spiritual pilgrimage the East has to offer." "--Daily Telegraph" "The writing glitters. Thubron has always been a travel-writing stylist, in the lyrical mould of Patrick Leigh Fermor, but with the quartz-like eye of Freya Stark." --"Scotsman"