Tibetan writer’s debut novel shortlisted for 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, September 29: Vancouver Tibetan writer Tsering Yangzom Lama’s debut novel We measure the Earth with our bodys, published in May, has been shortlisted for the prestigious 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize. The jury presenter said on Tuesday that “the pages of history are both a tribute to survival and a home for exiles”. Tsering is competing for the $100,000 prize with four other distinguished Canadian writers, including Rawi Hage (Stray dogs), Kim Fu (21 Lesser Known Monstersst Century), Suzette Mayr (The Sleeping Car Carrier), and Noor Naga (If an Egyptian does not speak English).

“Through a moving intergenerational saga that spans decades and continents, Tsering Yangzom Lama skillfully unearths how exiles create a home when their homeland has been stolen. Tenderly authentic, [the novel] delicately and vigorously illustrates the continuing human cause of Tibetan displacement and the determination of refugees to support the strong diaspora, despite the violence of colonialism,” writer and jury Waubgeshig Rice described how Lama’s story puts Tibetan women at the center , bound by a “country to which they can no longer return”.

In an interview with Radio-Canada News In June, the author said that the stories of ordinary people who can pave the way for understanding the complexity of Tibet: “I would like people to remember Tibet and understand the deep historical catastrophe that my community has had to cope and survive. No nation, no great power has put its power behind us. It’s a huge story. And this cannot be understood simply through the abstract conceptual frameworks of international politics or the rhetoric of nation states. It requires looking at everyday realities of everyday people – our spirituality, how we love, how we carry on.

This year’s Giller Prize winner will be announced on November 7 in Toronto, Canada. The winner is chosen following a rigorous selection process; Tsering’s book landed on the shortlist of five books after being selected from among 14 titles from a pool of 138 books submitted by publishers across Canada. Although the novel is likely to be released in India next year, Tibetans living in the West have written many reviews about the story’s relevance and its contemporaneity to issues facing Tibetans across the world.

The Tibetan-Canadian writer currently works as a storytelling advisor at Greenpeace International where she guides and trains offices around the world in storytelling strategy. The first novel is a New York Times Summer Reads Pick and was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Award and the Toronto Book Award. Lama holds an MFA from Columbia University and a BA in International Relations and Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia (UBC).

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