Lama’s novel spans 50 years and three generations, vividly documenting one family’s attempts to stay faithful to time-honored traditions ... Lama sets up a particularly searing contrast between the daily experiences of Lhamo, who makes a tenuous living selling trinkets to tourists near Kathmandu, and those of the wealthy art connoisseurs encountered by Lhamo’s daughter, Dolma, an aspiring Tibetan scholar who pursues her studies in Canada and lives with her aunt Tenkyi, a former teacher who now cleans hotel rooms. Moving back and forth in time, hinging crucial plot twists to the disappearance (or is it theft?) of a sacred relic, Lama offers an unsentimental account of these Tibetan expatriates’ 'ugly game' of survival.
... achingly beautiful ... It is the characters’ capacity for romance, jealousy, and even pettiness that adds nuance and color to this tale of historic and personal loss, tempering their trials with a measure of joy.
... heartfelt and magical ... Lama imbues this mesmerizing tale—informed by her own family fleeing Tibet for Nepal in the early 1960s— with a rich sense of history, mysticism, and ritual. This brings great revelations and significance to a family’s courage and acts of cultural preservation.