Ma Jian, a Chinese writer, traveled alone through the Tibetan highlands during a period of personal difficulty, hoping to reconnect to nature and to his Buddhist faith. What he found, and wrote about in these five short stories, not left him even more desolate than before, but caused him to be banned in his native China. Tibet has been much romanticized over the years by Hollywood and naive Western spiritual tourists. Ma Jian reveals the harsh truths of Tibet life as he experienced it. While there is beauty and deep humanity, it's also violent, stark, filled with horrible suffering, poverty and superstition. I found the work profound, and masterfully written; I also found it shocking and heartbreaking. Whatever the reader's reaction, it's clearly a powerful and important work. The author is to be commended.