Source: Malaspina University College
Mongolian author to read at Malaspina University-College
October 24, 2006
Mongolian author, chieftain, shaman and poet Galsan Tschinag is visiting Malaspina University-College’s Nanaimo campus for a free reading from his latest book, The Blue Sky.
The book, which was translated into English by Malaspina English professor Katharina Rout, was released in September by Canadian publisher Oolichan Books and American publisher Milkweed Editions and was a feature at the Vancouver International Writers’ Festival this past week.
Tschinag is the chieftain of the Tuvan people in Mongolia, most of whom are nomadic herders living in the High Altai Mountains in Mongolia. He has been internationally recognized for the more than 30 works of mostly fiction and poetry he has written. He writes mostly in German which he learned while studying in Leipzig Germany in the 1960s. His own people have an oral tradition so by learning German, Tschinag was able to give a voice to his people, who have faced many political upheavals and on whose behalf Tschinag negotiated an historic land claim treaty.
Rout, who speaks German, is a great admirer of Tschinag’s work. In 2004 Rout travelled to Mongolia to meet Tschinag and translate his novel on location where she got a real feel for the life of Tschinag and his people. Rout’s translation of The Blue Sky is the first of Tschinag’s novels to become available in English.
The Blue Sky is also the first of three autobiographical novels about Tschinag’s life. In it he tells of his childhood with his nomadic herding family in the 1940s. The book richly describes the landscape of his childhood which Rout also was able to experience during her visit. She writes in her forward, "the air smelled of sage, and before us lay an awe-inspiring ocean of greenish-blue velvety mountain backs, broad valleys left behind by glaciers, and snow-covered peaks in the distance".
Readers follow Tschinag through his daily Tuvan life where he lives with his grandmother, her herd of 21 sheep and his beloved dog Arsylang. He lives on sheep’s milk, cheese, butter and meat from his animals.
The other two books discuss his life as a teenager, his development as a poet and his journey into shamanism (a traditional healer) and the resistance he experienced within a communist school system where shamanism was outlawed.
While his stories provide readers with a glimpse into a rare and wonderful world that still exists today, the royalties from his books also serve to help his people.
Mongolian Rhapsody: A Cultural Evening with Galsan Tschinag is on Oct. 26, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Nanaimo campus, building 355, room 203. There will be a question and answer period followed by a reception at 9 p.m. For information contact Katharina Rout, 753-3245, ext. 2120, email@example.com, or Colleen McVeigh, 753-3245, ext. 2255, firstname.lastname@example.org.
During his North American tour, Tschinag will also be reading at the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, University of Waterloo and a number of locations in the United States.
For more information contact: Toni O'Keeffe, Director of Communications & Public Relations. Phone (250) 740-6341; FAX (250) 740-6474; E-mail email@example.com