cover image Invading Tibet

Invading Tibet

Mark Frutkin, Author Soho Press $19.95 (215p) ISBN 978-0-939149-74-2

Two Tibets--one of harsh reality, one of the imagination--make competing claims on the questing characters in this poetic, meditative novel. Alex, a scholar in Montreal, becomes obsessed with his great-great-uncle Edmund Candler, a London news correspondent who joined a British military expedition that murderously invaded Tibet from India in 1904 to prevent the Dalai Lama from joining forces with Russia. Through Candler's diary excerpts, interwoven with an account of Alex's research in London, we see how each member of the expedition projects his own hopes, fears and dreams onto the fabled city of Lhasa. A subplot involves a Tibetan monk who plots with Rasputin to win the Buddhist world for Tsar Nicholas II. Alex's conversations with an eccentric intellectual buddy, Milton, for whom the realm of imagination furnishes the only real life, effectively counterpoint the prescriptions of Tibetan religion and meditation. Frutkin ( Atmospheres Apollonaire ), a practicing Buddhist born in Cleveland and now living in Ottawa, has created a shimmering, fragmentary parable about the hazards of the aggressive pursuit of enlightenment, the West's efforts to dominate the East, and the difficulty of knowing others--and oneself. (Feb.)