Across Many Mountains: A Memoir


Kunsang is a young nun, spending years learning the rituals and meditation techniques central to Tibetan Buddhism. Her life seems blessed and peaceful until the Chinese incursion into Tibet. She marries Tsering, births and loses her youngest daughter and then her husband as they trek through the mountains toward India. The author depicts this dangerous transition in remarkable ways, juxtaposing the beauty of the land, the colorful dress, and well-loved Tibetan foods with the fear and brutality as the Chinese attempt to wipe out Tibetan culture.

The life of Kunsang’s daughter, Sonam, gradually becomes centered in her mother’s spiritualism after she realizes these beliefs and practices provide stability in a world where she is seen as a poor exile of the lower classes in India, subject to the compassionate responses of the wealthy and those who control the social organizations attempting to help the huge number of Tibetan refugees. Eventually, Sonam marries a Swiss student who is studying Buddhism, and the family moves to Switzerland and much later to America. Words cannot convey the deep peace, beauty, struggle, and strength threading every page of this account. Across Many Mountains is a moving, beautifully constructed memoir, a personal portrait of those who have loved and lost but reclaimed Tibet’s true identity.

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