The Blue Sky
In the high Altai Mountains of northern Mongolia, the nomadic Tuvan people’s ancient way of life collides with the pervasive influence of modernity as seen through the eyes of Dshurukawaa, a young shepherd boy.
This confrontation comes in stages. First his older siblings leave the family yurt to attend a distant boarding school. Then the boy’s grandmother dies, and with her the boy’s connection to the tribes. But perhaps the greatest tragedy strikes when his dog, Arsylang—“all that was left to me”—ingests poison set out by the boy’s father to protect his herd from wolves. “Why is it so?” Dshurukawaa cries out in despair to the Heavenly Blue Sky, but he is answered only by the silence of the wind.
Rooted in the oral traditions of the Tuvan people and their epics, the first novel in Galsan Tschinag’s saga—reissued as a Seedbank title—weaves the timeless story of a boy poised on the cusp of manhood with the tale of a people’s vanishing way of life.
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Praise and Prizes
“The story that lies behind this novel is as thrilling as the book itself….Tschinag makes it easy for his readers to fall into the beautiful rhythms of the Tuvans' daily life.”
“Book by book, Galsan Tschinag is championing his people and preserving their traditions. . . . He gives a whole new meaning to the power contained in the written word.”
“One of those rare books that even when read in solitude makes you feel as if you’ve just been told a story while surrounded by family and friends in front of a fire. . . . The Blue Sky celebrates kinship, mirrors history and captures the mountains, valleys and steppes in all their surpassing beauty and brutality.”
“In this pristine and concentrated tale of miraculous survival and anguished loss, Galsan Tschinag evokes the nurturing warmth of a family within the circular embrace of a yurt as an ancient way of life lived in harmony with nature becomes endangered.”
“Tschinag offers softly outlined characters more in the oral tradition than that of the novel, and fly-on-the-wall depictions of the Tuvans. . . . Descriptions of the Altai mountains, remarkable sky, and closeness to the flock are slow but rich. The book is filled with small pleasures.”
“Tschinag's beautiful descriptions of his stark and remote mountain homeland and the emotion he evokes through details about the family's daily life will make readers eager for the next installments of Tschinag's tale: The Grey Earth and The White Mountain. Recommended.”
“Galsan Tschinag’s The Blue Sky is a largely episodic novel that juxtaposes its protagonist’s development with changes in the society in which he lives. What makes it stand out is the emphasis on lived-in details; this is the sort of book where, reading it, you feel as though you could step directly into its setting and find yourself living there.”
“With the U.S. debut of The Blue Sky, English readers for the first time have direct access to a memorable native Tuvan voice.”
“The book, as a part of Galsan's testimony, invites us to the same questions. For the places we know and love, what will we do to protect them? Even as technologies change our lifestyles, what will we pass on to our children? How will we use our words to shape the world? In this vein, the book is a perfect next installment for Milkweed's Seedbank Series. Those who have loved and delighted in the other titles will be sure to find the majestic world of the Altai and its peoples a place worth remembering.”