Saturday, August 16, 2008


I have now finished reading The Skull Mantra and I found it a very sad book not only because of the way Tibetans have become an oppressed minority in their own country but also because of how the Western world has paid so little attention to their plight.

'The streets seemed more Chinese than Tibetan, and with a pang of sorrow as sharp as a blade Shan remembered why. Beijing had 'naturalized' the city by shipping in a hundred thousand Chinese to join the fifty thousand Tibetans already living there.'

Like the huge highly organized displays of  their citizens the destruction of the written word seems another constant activity in totalitarian regimes.

'For the Red Guards who invaded the Potala during the Cultural Revolution nothing had symbolized the Four Olds better than these manuscripts. They made a public display of destroying the volumes on the temple grounds, ripping many into pieces which were sent for use in the Red Guard latrines.' 

The more I read the novel the closer became the analogy between the regimes of Berlin 1936 and Beijing 2008. 

The Skull Mantra was an excellent read with perhaps just a bit too much detail for my elderly brain to absorb, but it was yet another fine example of how crime fiction can be used as an educational tool. 


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