Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in the Happiest Place on Earth by Lisa Napoli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Once upon a time, I told a lie. When I wrote my review on Conor Grennen's book, "Little Princes" I gave a great big hoorah about Nepal and said my brother married a Nepalese woman. The truth is she was living in Nepal but was born in the kingdom of Sikkim, which borders China, Nepal, and Bhutan which represent the Himalayas.
The difference between Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan are probably many but most markedly that Bhutan is isolated not only by geography but has cut itself off from the outside world until recently allowing television and internet access. This Buddhist kingdom has been under royal rule but recently turned over to democracy. Because it is so small, access to the king is fairly simple. If you don't know the king, you know someone who does. This is true with nearly every person in the kingdom.
The fourth king finally allowed the introduction of the outside world. The fifth king (who was a prince at the time) funded a radio station that changed the way information was dessiminated. Lisa Napoli happened to have a front row seat to the country's transformation.
Lisa was grappling with her own life when Karma called. She met a man with ties to the difficult to enter Bhutan. He made a contact and shortly after, Lisa arrived in Bhutan. Over the next year and a half, she made the trip three times. The book details the change in government, the change in development, and landscape. At the same time, Lisa experiences her own transformation. The people of Bhutan infuse themselves to Lisa and become part of her family, filling gaps she earlier grieved.
It's a memoir and a history book. It's an enjoyable read.
2 copies are available thanks to Crown Publishing!
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Ends March 1st.