The Gray Earth
This powerful, sweeping novel continues the saga of the Tuvan shepherd boy introduced in The Blue Sky. Torn between the onset of visions and a deep interest in shamanism on one hand, and pressure from his family to attend a state boarding school on the other, the adolescent Dshurukuwaa attempts to mediate the pulls of spirituality and pragmatism, old ways and new.
Taken from his ancestral home, Dshurukuwaa reunites with his siblings at a boarding school, where his brother also serves as the principal. Soon he comes to understand that the main purpose of the school—and for that matter, of the state—is to strip the Tuvans of their language and traditions, and to make them conform to party ideals. Struggling to escape oppression by excelling in his studies, it is not long before Dshurukuwaa and his family are at odds with the system, placing his brother in danger. When tragedy strikes, Dshurukuwaa begins to sense the larger import of his visions, and with it a way to honor his native identity and heritage.
Rooted in the oral traditions of the Tuvan people and their epics, Galsan Tschinag weaves the timeless tale of a boy poised on the cusp of manhood with the story of a people on the threshold.
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Praise and Prizes
“Dazzling . . . Dshurukawaa is still as buckingly antiauthoritarian as an 8-year-old can be—a Tom Sawyer of the Steppe. . . . Galsan Tschinag’s authorial voice never drowns out that of his brilliantly complex boy narrator. Trickster Dshurukawaa makes this book, defamiliarizing things to make the alluring ordinary, the ordinary alluring.”
“The ground beneath this novel slips under your feet even as you read; a landscape threatened by global warming and other environmental degradations; a way of life disappearing faster than you can turn the pages—yak cheese, mutton and dried juniper. A language fighting for its life.”
“There is a great deal of charm in this slim novel. . . . Dshurukuwaa has all the sturdy charisma of a Dickens character.”
“[An] important book . . . Indigenous cultures and languages have been attacked, denied and lost in boarding schools worldwide. It is an investment in our humanity to save and share stories such as this one that allow readers to understand the square strangeness of our so-called modern lives.”