BLUE POPPIES by Jonathan Falla

BLUE POPPIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Debut romance in a medieval village that’s being set upon by modern politics.

When Scottish-born finger of British imperialism Jamie ends his yearlong stint in Lhasa and travels to the remote Tibetan village of Jyeko, he’s tickled pink. It’s the first time the little town has had as much as a radio, which it’s Jamie’s job to post to this part of Tibet, where the women are the polygamists and the men often stand more than six feet tall (“Poor little Jyeko had a small scruffy monastery jammed onto the hillside, no more than two hundred citizens and a few dozen houses. The homes of the poor were dens of stone rendered with mud, the roof of one story leading to the door of the next, with notched tree trunks for ladders that resembled saws from a giant’s toolbox”). Jamie settles in quickly—he teaches Ping-Pong to the monks—and it’s not long before he spots the widow Puton, who some time before had come to the village with her tax-collector husband and daughter. This happy family went off on a trip only to have the husband go careening off a cliff in an accident that also left Puton with a crippled leg and the reputation of being a jinx. So now there are two foreigners in a little town. But it’s not until the Tibetan version of a medieval jousting ceremony—Jamie wins Puton a scarf—that he can catch her attention. Will it be a problem that Puton’s husband has been reincarnated as a yak, since he had no proper burial? And how about the Chinese, who are predictably menacing though polite enough (and they play table tennis like nobody’s business). The Tibetans of course resent the Chinese, and an “international” Ping-Pong tournament turns bloody, leaving three dozen Chinese hacked to pieces. Will they come back with an army? Will Puton escape with Jamie to India?

A Tibetan Miss Saigon.

Pub Date: Feb. 11th, 2003
ISBN: 0-385-33680-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Delta
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2002