01 August, 2021

High On Low-Brow

Tibet's his pet passion and Literature his pet hate. And they're the reasons why Jamyang Norbu wrote 'The Mandala'.

High On Low-Brow
Jamyang Norbu/photo: Tribhuvan TiwariNO one was more surprised with the Crossword Book Award this year than the 52-year-old winner himself. Jamyang Norbu—Tibetan exilé, college dropout, unemployed father, guitar-strummer, part-time polemicist and cartographer, tutor of English in Japan and teacher of Tibetan studies, impassioned critic of China and the Dalai Lama’s Middle Path, an inveterate collector of quaint and useless information, member of Baker Street Irregulars and, now, author of a pastiche on Sherlock Holmes—was so sure he would not win India’s latest bumper literary prize that instead of turning up at the awards function in Delhi, he chose to take a flight to Venice to attend a conference on Tibetan opera. "I thought all the judges for these awards are university-wallahs who would dismiss my book as just another work of detective fiction," he says.

Norbu’s wariness of "university-wallahs" goes back a long way: he ran away from his first months in college to join the Tibetan guerrilla...

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