Tibet-expert Klemens Ludwig and his co-author Holm Triesch have published
a novel which fascinates the reader from the very first till the end.
But despite the novel's happy end, the reader is kind of sad after finishing,
because how great it would be, if the end reflected real life: if it
were not only suspenseful fiction, but the true story of the Panchen
Lama, who has been kidnapped by the Chinese. Indeed the sad fact is
that the boy Genduen Choekyi Nyima, who has been regarded as the youngest
political prisoner in the world after being kidnapped by Chinese secret
forces in May 1995, is still missing- 17 years after the kidnapping.
Despite massive intervention from governments and international human
rights organisations, no one knows where the kidnapped man is, what
his situation is and whether he is still alive. The public only knows
why he has been kidnapped: Dalai Lama declared the boy as the reincarnation
of the 10. Panchen Lama before the Chinese did it. The Chinese Communist
Party (CCP) couldn't accept such a loss of face. The boy had to disappear
and the CCP chose a different candidate as Panchen Lama, a son of Party
members, who is educated as an instrument of Chinese maintenance of
power over Tibet.
But in Tibet, the "wrong" Panchen Lama will never be accepted,
neither from the ordinary people nor from the clergy.
These are the basics from which the novel "Gendün" starts.
The very beginning isn't like a novel, but rather a documentation of
the facts of the kidnapping and the complications it caused. From these
facts, the authors slowly revolve to fiction and follow a trace of wishful
fantasy which will be alive in the heart of every friend of the Tibetans
- that the "real" Panchen Lama is not only doing well as a
prisoner of the Chinese, but that he might find a way to freedom in
order to take on the responsibilities of the 11th Panchen Lama, at least
The novel develops a very convincing possibility of such an escape.
The authors come closer and closer to the characters. The very detailed
description of the landscape, the characters and the real situation
in occupied Tibet create an intriguing atmosphere and lend the book
great authenticity, although it remains Tibetan wishful fantasy.
There is a very touching side-story about the journey of a young exile
Tibetan (living in the USA), who discovers a terrible secret about his
father, a Chushi Gandruk-resistance fighter, which helps him to find
his own identity. The vivid action and love scenes fulfil the expectations
of ordinary readers who are not dedicated to Tibet, but are simply looking
for a good suspense novel.
Franz Binder [in: Brennpunkt Tibet 1/2013