Spiegel & Grau
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". . . cleverly compares America to Nepal."
Escaping a troubled marriage, Peter, a cardiologist, and his seventeen-year-old daughter, Alex, toss a dart on a map that hits Nepal. Cary Groner has skillfully plotted a cliffhanger novel laced with human intrigue.
Seven months after arriving in Kathmandu, Nepal, Peter reflects on his new life: He’d acquired “a divorce, a motor scooter covered in ox shit, a lesbian near-daughter-in-law, a small brown goat, dysentery, a housekeeper who doubled as informant, a medical supplier who doubled as a pimp…”
Peter and Alex instantly face myriad obstacles. The job Peter expected at a teaching hospital as a visiting instructor and attending physician was no longer available, forcing him instead to work for the underfunded and understaffed “Physicians without Frontiers.” After Peter has the local pimp arrested, he is exiled to a village where he learns of physical abuses of Tibetan monks and nuns by Chinese soldiers. Unexpectedly, he discovers solace within Buddhist teachings.
Caught in Nepal’s 2006 anti-government riots, Peter and Alex are captured by Maoist rebels, who decide to shoot them, but in a dramatically tense moment, Peter escapes while Alex is left behind. Aided by two Tibetans, Peter’s hair-raising journey back to Katmandu will keep the reader on edge. The adventure takes on a wild twist as Peter seeks the help of the pimp to rescue his daughter.
The story also coincides with violent protests led by the communist-oriented People’s Liberation Army against the direct rule of the Nepalese Monarch protected by the Royal Nepalese Army. Groner cleverly compares America to Nepal. In speaking to the Maoist leader, he says America has its own royalty. “Corporations,” Peter said, “and they’re worse than King George ever was. If a war is good for business, we have a war. If single-payer healthcare is bad for profits, we don’t have it. They control the debate and airwaves….”
Groner’s poetic prose engages the reader from beginning to end, also offering unique insight into Buddhist teachings and the act of forgiving.
Reviewer: Kate Padilla