cover image Sorrow Mountain: The Journey of a Tibetan Warrior Nun

Sorrow Mountain: The Journey of a Tibetan Warrior Nun

Ani Pachen, Adelaide Donnelly. Kodansha America, $24 (288pp) ISBN 978-1-56836-294-6

Born in 1933 as the only child of a Tibetan village chieftain in the eastern province of Kham, Pachen refused an arranged marriage in hope of leading a monastic life. As Chinese troops hardened their grip on Tibet in 1958, she assumed her father's role upon his death, helping to lead the Tibetan resistance until her capture by the Chinese in 1960. Told to confess her crimes against the Chinese army and that if she didn't yield she would die, the Tibetan stood her ground. ""When our time comes, each of us dies. There is nothing we can do,"" she explains. Although hundreds of thousands of Tibetans were killed along with many wild animals (to teach Tibetans to surrender their ""superstitious"" reverence of living things), Pachen was imprisoned for 21 years instead. Near starvation, she would rejoice if she found a worm to eat in the soil that she worked at labor camps. (One prisoner died from gouging out the innards of a dead horse buried in the field and consuming them, feces and all.) Asked what saved her, she replied, ""The wish to see His Holiness,"" the Dalai Lama. As Pachen, who was released in 1980, concludes in an account that is more notable for its wrenching drama and its author's courage than for the style in which it is told, ""As for me, the story will go like this: She led her people to fight against the Chinese.... She worked to save the ancient spiritual teachings. When I die, just my story will be left."" Agent, Eileen Cope of Barbara Lowenstein Associates; foreign rights sold in the U.K., Italy, Germany and Holland; 7-city author tour. (Feb.)