DALAI LAMA, MY SON by Diki Tsering


A Mother's Story
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A new addition to the cottage industry of books by and about the Dalai Lama.

Tsering was born in 1901 to a peasant family. Fans of the Dalai Lama will enjoy her memoir because of the vignettes of her son’s childhood and because of Tsering’s heartrending account of the Chinese invasion of Tibet. But even more arresting are the descriptions of the everyday workings of a Tibetan peasant home: Tsering writes especially evocatively of cooking. “Kitchens were the pride of every housewife,” she tells us, describing the variety of breads, noodles, steamed dumplings, and barley dishes she learned to cook as a young girl. She also describes Tibetan dress in great detail, noting the importance of jewelry for adult women and the 70 small braids women wore in their hair. Tsering married at 16, and the first years of her marriage contained little other than hard work—she often slept only four hours a night, and she was scolded by her motherinlaw if she did not complete her chores quickly enough. She had 16 children, of whom only seven survived past infancy (and one of whom became the 14th Dalai Lama). He “was different from my other children right from the start,” Tsering tells us. Tsering’s descriptions of quotidian goingson are occasionally embellished with nuggets of spiritual insight—like the importance of suffering in the Buddhist tradition—but the reader primarily interested in his own spiritual growth will want to skip this book and go straight to those written by Tsering’s son. At times, it must be said, Tsering’s tale seems a little saccharine—didn’t Mom ever lose her temper at His Holiness?

This slender volume has much to recommend it, but at the end the reader is left wanting more—the book is perhaps too thin, both in page count and substance. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 2nd, 2000
ISBN: 0-670-88905-9
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2000


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