Shadow Over Shangri-La

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9781574880618: Shadow Over Shangri-La
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Brutally interogated and imprisoned for eight months following her participation in the fight to bring democracy to her country of Nepal, Durga Pokhrel was sustained by a profound spiritual consciousness. She won the confidence and love of her fellow inmates, and became their source of strength. SHADOW OVER SHANGRI-LA tells her inspiring story of courage and fortitude.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

An inspiring memoir of a Nepalese political prisoner who survived months of incarceration, witnessed the demise of her country's oppressive government in 1990, and went on to enjoy a fairy-tale romance and marriage. Politicized in early adulthood, upper-caste Pokhrel broke from her Brahmin family to fight for democracy against the ruling Panchayat regime, becoming active in the Nepali Congress and operating an opposition press. In 1981 she was arrested and imprisoned on groundless charges. While mixing chronological storytelling and flashback, she concentrates on the daily life of a Nepali women's prison, revealing it as ``institutionalized torture,'' where the goal of the state was to ``maintain a regime of unconsciousness, compliance, mindlessness, and inhumanity.'' Rather than focusing only on her survivial, Pokhrel petitioned for other prisoners. Her commitment to her country continued even after she was released, fled Nepal, attended Harvard, and married British rural development specialist (and coauthor) Willett. Her final chapter is a moving statement of her unflinching hope: She envisions the process of creating ``a conscious Nepali society established in right action.'' Pokhrel propels the story with ample dialogue and detailed description, particularly of prison conditions. Readers will not forget what she describes: starving, unwashed prisoners, beaten, repeatedly violated, suspended upside down, or shackled to wheels. Yet Pokhrel keeps these descriptions bearable by reminding herself (and us) that this is a situation that must end. If the book is not a fast read, it is because of elements that give the narrative intimacy and character: Pokhrel's formal phrasing and her digressions about the nature of freedom. Lacking the visceral excitement of a Papillon, but memorable for Pokhrel's idealism, humanity, and unflagging determination to live. (8 pages photos, not seen) (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

This memoir by a Nepalese antigovernment activist who, in 1981, was imprisoned without charges for nearly a year, is an indictment of the country's rulers for human rights violations 15 years ago. Written with her British-born husband, the book's power is diluted by clumsy writing and a failure to explain some of the details of Nepalese culture and politics. Until her arrest, Pokhrel, an upper-caste religious Hindu, ran a flourishing publishing company in Kathmandu with two friends, printing both political and nonpolitical materials. A few months before she was seized, strangers asked her help in a plot to kidnap the king's son. She refused but failed to report the incident and gave them a considerable sum, ostensibly so they would stop bothering her. She assumes this incident figured in her arrest. Her account focuses on the appalling conditions of prison life, although her own suffering was mitigated by exceptional privileges, particularly the services of a cellmate as her maid and cook. After nearly a year of prayers and with the help of Amnesty International, she was freed, emigrating shortly thereafter to the U.S. Her unusual suggestions for prison reform include daily meditation and yoga practice for both staff and inmates, abolition of the caste system and implementation of traditional Nepalese principles of physical and mental health. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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