A few weeks ago, I was reading LitHub, one of the many literary magazines I enjoy greatly, and I found an essay that caught my immediate fancy. It is titled, “Literature in the Bardo: Tenzin Dickie on the Past, Present, and Future of the Tibetan Essay”.
Not only was I captivated by her prose but importantly, it opened a window to the world of Tibetan literature.
Growing up in India, Tibet exists by default, if nothing else. We know a smattering of things about that country and its culture. There’s the Dalai Lama, there are the Tibetan settlements in Dharamsala in the north and Bylakuppe, south of Bangalore and we know that the Tibetans come here to run away from the Chinese occupation of their country. Inevitably there’s someone who tells us to go to that Tibetan doctor—and that their system of medicine is the best.
Things like this make us believe we know Tibet more than we really do. Gives us a sense of familiarity but not any knowledge. You don’t think much about it—other than maybe feeling happy to have been a shelter for someone in need, especially when that someone is the Dalai Lama—but the LitHub piece set me running down a delightful rabbit hole.
My guest today is the author of that essay, Tenzin Dickie and you heard her reading an extract from it. I would describe Tenzin as an exceptionally gifted writer. Her latest book is titled The Penguin Book Of Modern Tibetan Essays and the stories in it present a wonderful window into the Tibetan soul—these stories are both touching and strong and you begin to appreciate not just the mind of the minority but also the mind of a minority in exile, possibly forever.
Tenzin edited this book and with this and whatever I read about her in my research, I’ll venture that she is the new custodian of the Tibetan tale.
I have spent the last week happily immersed in Tibetan literature and I have a ton of questions for her. And so here she is, joining me from her home in Boston.
ABOUT TENZIN DICKIE
Tenzin Dickie is the editor of the English language anthologies of modern Tibetan fiction and nonfiction: Old Demons, New Deities: Twenty One Short Stories from Tibet & The Penguin Book of Modern Tibetan Essays. A graduate of Harvard and Columbia Universities, she also studied at the Tibetan Children's Village School in Dharamsala, India.
Buy The Penguin Book Of Modern Tibetan Essays here: https://amzn.to/3NVcEOW
WHAT'S THAT WORD?!
Co-host Pranati "Pea" Madhav joins Ramjee Chandran in "What's That Word?!", where they discuss the etymology of "PROVERB"
Reach us by mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or simply, email@example.com
Or here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/theliterarycity
Or here: https://www.instagram.com/explocityblr/