The Green-Eyed Lama (Ногоон нуден лам): Reflections on the best-selling novel and Mongolia's recent history
Ms. Oyungerel Tsedevdamba is a former Member of Parliament (2012-16) and former Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Mongolia. She is an author, rights advocate, and leader of a development NGO based in Ulaanbaatar.
Since its initial publication in 2008, Oyungerel Tsedevdamba’s historical novel, The Green-Eyed Lama (Ногоон нуден лам), co-written with Jeffrey Falt, has been on the bestseller list in Mongolia. Now available in French and English translations, its captivating tale of politics, religion, love, and intrigue provides readers with a rare inside view of the upheavals that rocked the country in the 1930s and 1940s. Sendmaa, a young herdswoman, falls in love with Baasan, a handsome lama. Baasan resolves to leave the priesthood and marry Sendmaa, but a jealous neighbor, Chulunjii, persuades Baasan’s brother, Bold, to propose first. Their whole world is engulfed by tragedy when Choibalsan, Mongolia’s Communist leader, moves to crush the Buddhist faith and Baasan is sentenced to death as a class enemy. An improbable ally in the guise of a lama-turned-KGB-agent intervenes to save Baasan, giving him a chance to reunite with Sendmaa and turning him into a witness of the cruelty of the era.
The author will join us to discuss the book’s unprecedented reception and explore the lessons to be learned from this dark period of Mongolia’s recent past.