For readers of Pachinko and We Need New Names, the compelling and profound story of a Tibetan family’s journey through exile.
In the wake of China’s invasion of Tibet in 1959, Lhamo and her younger sister Tenkyi arrive at a refugee camp on the border of Nepal. Lhamo and Tenkyi survived the dangerous journey across the Himalayas into exile, but their parents did not. Now, Lhamo—haunted by the loss of her homeland and the memory of her mother, a village oracle—is trying to rebuild a life amid a shattered community. Lhamo finds hope in the arrival of a young man named Samphel, whose uncle brings with him an ancient statue of a nameless saint—a statue last seen in their village and known for vanishing and reappearing in times of need.
Decades later, the sisters are separated, and Tenkyi is living with Lhamo’s daughter Dolma in Toronto. While Tenkyi works as a cleaner and struggles with traumatic memories, Dolma is vying for a place as a scholar of Tibet Studies. But when Dolma comes across the statue of the nameless saint in a collector’s vault, she decides to reclaim it for her family and community, even if it means risking her dreams.
Breathtaking in its scope and powerful in its intimacy, We Measure the Earth with our Bodies is a gorgeously written meditation on colonization, displacement, and the lengths we go to remain connected to our families and ancestral lands. Told through the lives of four people over fifty years, this novel provides a nuanced, moving portrait of the little-known world of Tibetan exiles.