"On September 30, 2006," reads the book's back cover, "climbers preparing to summit Cho Oyu, a mountain nineteen miles east of Mount Everest, watched in horror as Chinese border guards fired at a group of Tibetans fleeing to India via Nepal. Kelsang Namtso, a seventeen-year-old Tibetan nun, was killed in the assault. In this affecting portrait of modern Tibet, Jonathan Green introduces us to the disparate band of seekers and survivors who converged at the rooftop of the world on this fateful morning, as he seeks an answer for one woman's life."
I hadn't been to a book reading in years. But after hearing about Jonathan Green's book, Murder in the High Himalaya, I made the journey down to the West Springfield Library last night to hear his talk, and pick up his book, of course.
This treacherous region on the Tibetan border with Nepal, Green pointed out in his talk, regularly attracts mountaineers of two very different ambitions. On one hand are hordes of wealthy western adventurers, paying tens of thousands of dollars to be guided up Mount Everest and the other famed peaks of the Himalayas. On the other hand are impoverished Tibetans attempting to flee their homeland for the promise of freely practicing their religion, and fully living their culture.
"To the elite mountaineering community," Green's website notes, "it offers a straightforward summit—a warm-up climb to her formidable sister. To Tibetans, Cho Oyu promises a gateway to freedom through a secret glacial path: the Nangpa La."
A British-born journalist now living in Longmeadow, Green says he was incredibly moved by the risks taken by so many people who helped him tell this story. “I would have been sent home, if I’d been caught," Green told The Republican. "The Tibetans, however, would have gotten into trouble ... Some people have been jailed for 10 or 15 years for working with Western journalists or even sending out an email.”
Hopefully, there will be more local events at which Green will speak about Murder in the High Himalaya soon. In the meantime, here's the book's trailer: