The Saint of Kathmandu: And Other Tales of the Sacred in Distant Lands

Sarah LeVine, Author Beacon $24.95 (242p) ISBN 978-0-8070-1312-0

Anthropologist LeVine, who has observed family interactions in Asia, Latin America and Africa over the course of decades, recounts how faith and superstition influence the daily life of the vibrant people she has met. “My focus is always on my characters’ need for religious faith and the uses they make of it,” she writes. With her “observing eye” and boundless curiosity, LeVine describes how witchcraft, Buddhism, spirit possession, charismatic Christianity and the Virgin Mary help people make sense of their lives and endure the hardships they encounter. Vivid descriptions and sympathetic portraits are this book’s strengths, while the author’s treatment of religion sometimes tends toward the superficial, addressing religion primarily as solace. LeVine (who coauthored Rebuilding Buddhism with David Gellner) is reticent about her reactions to the practices she witnesses and doesn’t always reveal when the events occurred, thereby omitting vital clues about political and cultural contexts. Still, this is compelling ethnography, and much of the book serves as testimony to the vulnerability of women in developing countries. (June 18)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
Ebook - 257 pages - 978-0-8070-9751-9
Paperback - 242 pages - 978-0-8070-1313-7
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