Eat the Buddha

Eat the Buddha

Life and Death in A Tibetan Town

Book - 2020
Average Rating:
Rate this:
5
A gripping portrait of modern Tibet told through the lives of its people, from the bestselling author of Nothing to Envy

"A brilliantly reported and eye-opening work of narrative nonfiction."-- The New York Times Book Review

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Parul Sehgal, The New York Times * The New York Times Book Review * The Washington Post * NPR * The Economist * Outside

Just as she did with North Korea, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick explores one of the most hidden corners of the world. She tells the story of a Tibetan town perched eleven thousand feet above sea level that is one of the most difficult places in all of China for foreigners to visit. Ngaba was one of the first places where the Tibetans and the Chinese Communists encountered one another. In the 1930s, Mao Zedong's Red Army fled into the Tibetan plateau to escape their adversaries in the Chinese Civil War. By the time the soldiers reached Ngaba, they were so hungry that they looted monasteries and ate religious statues made of flour and butter--to Tibetans, it was as if they were eating the Buddha. Their experiences would make Ngaba one of the engines of Tibetan resistance for decades to come, culminating in shocking acts of self-immolation.

Eat the Buddha spans decades of modern Tibetan and Chinese history, as told through the private lives of Demick's subjects, among them a princess whose family is wiped out during the Cultural Revolution, a young Tibetan nomad who becomes radicalized in the storied monastery of Kirti, an upwardly mobile entrepreneur who falls in love with a Chinese woman, a poet and intellectual who risks everything to voice his resistance, and a Tibetan schoolgirl forced to choose at an early age between her family and the elusive lure of Chinese money. All of them face the same dilemma: Do they resist the Chinese, or do they join them? Do they adhere to Buddhist teachings of compassion and nonviolence, or do they fight?

Illuminating a culture that has long been romanticized by Westerners as deeply spiritual and peaceful, Demick reveals what it is really like to be a Tibetan in the twenty-first century, trying to preserve one's culture, faith, and language against the depredations of a seemingly unstoppable, technologically all-seeing superpower. Her depiction is nuanced, unvarnished, and at times shocking.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Random House, [2020]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780812998757
0812998758
Branch Call Number: 951.38 DEMICK B
Characteristics: xvii, 325 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.

Opinion


Featured Blogs and Events

New Blog Post

Godzilla 20 from 2020 List created by LPL_IanS Twenty books published in 2020 that I read (or plan to read just as soon as the holds list is down to zero). Piranesi’s world is one of seemingly infinite grand classical halls. The lower levels are flooded. The highest touch the clouds. Innumerable statues populate “the House,” but innocent Piranesi and the enigmatic “Other” are its only known human… (more)


From Library Staff

Eat the Buddha by Barbara Demick - A fascinating and compelling history of Ngaba, a Tibetan town known for its high volume of self immolating monks. Focusing on a handful of Tibetans who lived through the CCP’s takeover, Eat the Buddha grounds Tibet’s tragedy in the personal. One of the best book... Read More »

List - 20 from 2020
LPL_IanS Nov 30, 2020

A fascinating and compelling history of Ngaba, a Tibetan town known for its high volume of self immolating monks. Focusing on a handful of Tibetans who lived through the CCP’s takeover, Eat the Buddha grounds Tibet’s tragedy in the personal. One of the best books I’ve read all year.

Comment
LPL_IanS Sep 17, 2020

A fascinating and compelling history of Ngaba, a Tibetan town known for its high volume of self immolating monks. Focusing on a handful of Tibetans who lived through the CCP’s takeover, Eat the Buddha grounds Tibet’s tragedy in the personal. One of the best books I’ve read all year.

"A portrait of one town reveals Tibet's tragic past. [...] Memorable voices inform a penetrating, absorbing history."


From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment
c
christison
Dec 21, 2020

From The Economist's Books of the Year (2020): "This is the grippingly told story of Ngaba, a county seat near the edge of the Tibetan plateau, and of the sufferings of its people under the Chinese Communist Party’s rule. Exploring an area rarely visited by foreigners, the author paints striking portraits of people living there, with a fine eye for detail and a keen grasp of Tibet’s history."

k
krsbozo
Nov 04, 2020

I really liked this story about the people who care so much about their right to practice their religion and live their lives as they choose that they self-immolate as a means of protesting against the Chinese government. The reporter talks with many of the people living in Tibet, and tells her tale through the lives of people who lived there. Many have fled to India. I learned a lot about the history of Tibet and China.

l
lilypad_1
Oct 04, 2020

Insightful history with current conditions in Tibet. Tragic what the Chinese have done to the dalai lama and the tibetan people.

LPL_IanS Sep 17, 2020

A fascinating and compelling history of Ngaba, a Tibetan town known for its high volume of self immolating monks. Focusing on a handful of Tibetans who lived through the CCP’s takeover, Eat the Buddha grounds Tibet’s tragedy in the personal. One of the best books I’ve read all year.

b
brangwinn
Aug 06, 2020

The title got me into the book, and the interesting history lesson kept me going. Focusing on a group of Tibetans who live in Sichuan, an area where many Tibetans have set themselves on fire protesting China’s rule. Demick sets out to find out why 156 Buddhists have set themselves on fire, even swallowing gasoline to make sure they burn from the inside. By looking back at the history of the Tibetan uprising and the humiliating way the Chinese stripped these Tibetans of everything, even killing their yaks, Demick has a very pessimistic outlook for the future. It’s a challenging book to read, but well worth it if you are interested in the future of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism.

Age

Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Recommendations

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at LPL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top