Modern Tibetan Literature

This page lists resources for the study of modern Tibetan literature, defined here as beginning from the start of the 20th century.  It is not a comprehensive list, but includes major works and collections in English language, as a starting point for research, in addition to bibliographic tips and strategies for locating English and Tibetan resources.

Although a page for classical Tibetan literature is not yet developed, an excellent overview for classical, religious and folk genres, see Tibetan Literature: Studies in Genre, edited by José Ignacio Cabezón and Roger R. Jackson.  In addition, the THL Tibetan Literary Encyclopedia offers a portal to many useful resources.

General Works

"Contemporary Tibetan literature." Lungta 12. Dharamsala (H.P.), India: Amnye Machen Institute, 1999. CLIO Record
 
Hartley, Lauran, and Schiaffini, Patricia, eds. Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008). Durham: Duke University Press, 2008.  CLIO Record
 
Venturino, Steven J. Contemporary Tibetan literary studies. PIATS 2003 : Tibetan studies: Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Oxford, 2003. Leiden: Brill, 2007.  CLIO Record

Bibliographies

Translated Works

Tibetan Language

Bhum, Pema. Six Stars with a Crooked Neck: Memoirs of the Cultural Revolution. Translated by Lauran Hartley. Dharamsala: Tibet Times, 2001.

Dondrup Gyal (Don grub rgyal). “‘Waterfall of Youth’.” [Poem] Translated by Tsering Shakya. Manoa 12, no. 2 (2000): 9–13.

———. Thöndrupgyäl. L’artiste tibétain : petit roman. Translated by Francoise Robin. Paris: Bleu de Chines, 2007.  CLIO Record  

———. Thöndrupgyäl. La fleur vaincue par le gel : roman. Translated by Francoise Robin. Paris: Bleu de Chine, 2006. CLIO Record 

Dorje Rinchen (Rdo-rje-rin-chen). “Roadside Journal.” Translated by Lauran Hartley. Exchanges (Journal of the Translation Laboratory at Iowa University), n.d.

Gendun Chopel (Dge ’dun chos ’phel). In the Forest of Faded Wisdom: 104 Poems by Gendun Chopel. Edited and translated by Donald S. Lopez. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2009. CLIO Record 

Jangbu (Ljang bu). Nine-Eyed Agate: Poems and Stories. Translated by Heather Stoddard. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010.

Ju Kalzang ('Ju Skal-bzang). “Tibet, Mother, Mani.” [Poem] Translated by Lauran Hartley. Lungta 12, no. 1999 Summer: 37.

Phuntsog Tashi (Phun tshogs bkra shis). “Guests of the Or Tog Bar.” Translated by Patricia Shiaffini-Vedani. World Literature Today 2004, no. Jan-April (2004): 57–61.

Sangye Gyatso. “’Khor Ba’i Snying Bo =  The Essence of Samsara.” [Poem] Translated by Francoise Robin. Latse Library Newsletter 1 (2003): 16–25.

Tailing, W. (Bkras-gling) Secret Tale of Tesur House. Beijing: China Tibetology Publishing House, 1998.

Tsering Dondrup (Tshe ring don grub). “A Show to Please the Masses.” Translated by Lauran Hartley. Persimmon: Asian Literature, Arts and Culture, 2, no. 2 (Fall 2000): 61–77.

Yangtsokyi (G.yang-’tsho-skyid) “Journal of the Grassland.” Translated by Lauran Hartley. Beacons 4, (ATA Journal of Literary Translation) 4 (1998): 99–111.

Chinese Language

Alai. Red Poppies. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.

———. Tibetan Soul: Stories. Translated by Karen Gernant and Zeping Chen. Portland, ME: MerwinAsia, 2012.

Batt, Herbert J. Tales of Tibet: Sky Burials, Prayer Wheels, and Wind Horses. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001.

Tashi Dawa. Soul in Bondage: Stories from Tibet. Beijing: Panda Books, 1992.

Original English Language Works by Tibetan Authors

Sonam, Bhuchung. Yak Horns : Note on Contemporary Tibetan Writing, Music, Film & Politics. Dharamsala: Tibet Writes, 2012. CLIO Record  

Norbu, Jamyang. Sherlock Holmes: Missing Years. New York: Bloomsbury, 1999. CLIO Record

Thubten Samphel. Falling through the Roof. New Delhi: Rupa & Co., 2008. CLIO Record

Dhompa, Tsering Wangmo. In the Absent Everyday. Berkeley, Calif. : Apogee Press, 2005. CLIO Record

———. My Rice Tastes Like the Lake. Berkeley, Calif. : Apogee Press, 2011. CLIO Record

———. Rules of the House. Berkeley, Calif. : Apogee Press, 2002. CLIO Record

Woeser. Tibet’s True Heart: Selected Poems. Translated by A.E. Clark. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Ragged Banner Press, 2008. CLIO Record

 

Dissertations

Hartley, Lauran. “Contextually Speaking : Tibetan Literary Discourse and Social Change in the People’s Republic of China (1980-2000).” Indiana University, 2003. CLIO Record
Jabb, Lama. “Modern Tibetan Literature and the Inescapable Nation.” Oxford University, 2013.
Schiaffini-Vedani, Patricia. “Tashi Dawa: Magical Realism and Contested Identity in Modern Tibet." University of Pennsylvania, 2002.
Shakya, Tsering Wangdu. “Emergence of Modern Tibetan Literature : Gsar Rtsom.” School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London), 2004.  
Virtanen, Riika. “Tibetan Written Images : A Study of Imagery in the Writings of Dhondup Gyal.” University of Helsinki, 2011.
Yangdon Dhondup. “Caught Between Margins: Culture, Identity and the Invention of a Literary Space in Tibet.” School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 2004.

 

Writers: Biographical Resources

Deng rabs Bod kyi rtsom pa po'i lo rgyus dang brtsams chos dkar chag.  Hor-gtsaṅ Klu-rgyal gyis bsgrigs. Lanzhou : Kan-suʼu mi rigs dpe skrun khaṅ, 2012. CLIO Record

Contains biographical entries for nearly 300 modern Tibetan writers arranged chronologically by year of birth; several entries include photographs and list the writer's prominent works. 

Deng rabs Bod kyi rtsom pa po'i snyan rtsom phyogs bsgrigs. Hong Kong: Then-mā dpe skrun khaṅ, 1998. CLIO Record

This collection of poetry by 20th century Tibetan authors features biographical information for each contributor.

Bhum, Pema. “The Life of Dhondup Gyal: A Shooting Star Cleaved the Night Sky and Vanished.” Translated by Ronald Schwartz. Lungta 9 (Winter 1995): 17–29.
Dhondup, Yangdon. “Writers at the Cross-Roads: The Mongolian-Tibetan Authors Tsering Dondup and Jangbu.” Inner Asia 4, no. 2 (2002): 225–40. CLIO Record
Erhard, Franz Xaver. “Constructed Identities and Contemporary Tibetan Literature : The Fiction of the Am Do Ba Skyabs Chen Bde Grol and the Lha Sa Ba Dpal ’Byor.” In Mapping the Modern in Tibet, edited by Gray Tuttle, 419–34. PIATS 2006 : Tibetan Studies: Proceddings of the Eleventh Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Konigswinter 2006. Andiast: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies GmbH, 2011. pages 419-434   CLIO Record
Tsering Dhondup. “Three Contemporary Mongolian-Tibetan Writers.” In Contemporary Tibetan Literary Studies. PIATS 2003: Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Oxford 2003, 6:87–93. Leiden: Brill, 2007.

 

History and Criticism

Bhum, Pema. “‘Heartbeat of a New Generation’ Revisited.” In Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change, translated by Lauran Hartley, 135–47. Duke University Press, 2008. CLIO Record  
———. “‘Heartbeat of a New Generation’: A Discussion of the New Poetry.” In Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change, translated by Ronald Schwartz, 112–34. Duke University Press, 2008. CLIO Record  
Choy, Howard Y.F. “In Quest(ion) of an ‘I’: Identity and Idiocy in Alai’s Red Poppies.” In Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change, 225–35. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. CLIO Record
Dhondup, Yangdon. “Roar of the Snow Lion: Tibetan Poetry in Chinese.” In Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change, 32–60. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. CLIO Record  
Engelhardt, Isrun. “Reflections in The Tibet Mirror : News of the World 1937-1946.” In Mapping the Modern in Tibet, edited by Gray Tuttle, 419–34. PIATS 2006 : Tibetan Studies: Proceddings of the Eleventh Seminar of the IATS, Konigswinter 2006. Andiast: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies GmbH, 2011. CLIO Record
Erhard, Franz Xaver. “Constructed Identities and Contemporary Tibetan Literature : The Fiction of the Am Do Ba Skyabs Chen Bde Grol and the Lha Sa Ba Dpal ’Byor.” In Mapping the Modern in Tibet, edited by Gray Tuttle, 419–34. PIATS 2006 : Tibetan Studies: Proceddings of the Eleventh Seminar of the IATS, Konigswinter 2006. Andiast: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies GmbH, 2011.  PDF  CLIO Record
———. “Magical Realism and Tibetan Literature.” In Contemporary Tibetan Literary Studies. PIATS 2003: Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Oxford 2003, 6:133–46. Leiden: Brill, 2007. PDF
Gang Yue. “As the Dust Settles in Shangri-La: Alai’s Tibet in the Era of Sino-Globalization.” Journal of Contemporary China 17, no. 56 (August 8AD): 543–63.
Hartley, Lauran. “‘’Inventing Modernity’ in A mdo: Views on the Role of Traditional Tibetan Culture in a Developing Society.’ Chapter 1. In Amdo Tibetans in Transition: Society and Culture in the Post-Mao Era. Edited by Toni Huber. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2002. CLIO Record
———. “Ascendancy of the Term Rtsom-Rig [literature] in Tibetan Literary Discourse.” In Contemporary Tibetan Literary Studies: Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the IATS, Oxford University. 1-22.  Edited by Steven J. Venturino,.Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2007. CLIO Record
———. “Heterodox Views and the New Orthodox Poems: Tibetan Writers in the Early and Mid-Twentieth Century.” In Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change, 3–31. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. CLIO Record
———. “‘Tibetan Publishing in the Early Post-Mao Period.’” Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie 15 (2005): 231–53.
Hartley, Lauran, and Schiaffini, Patricia, eds. Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. CLIO Record
Hortsang Jigme. “Tibetan Literature in the Diaspora.” In Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change, 281–300. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. CLIO Record
Jamyang Drakpa. “An Analysis of the Poem: Youn Dondrup the Courier.” In Contemporary Tibetan Literary Studies. PIATS 2003: Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Oxford 2003, translated by Gedun Rabsal, 6:95–110. Leiden: Brill, 2007.
Lin, Nancy G. “Dondrup Gyel and the Remaking of the Tibetan Ramayana.” In Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change, 86–111. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. CLIO Record
Maconi, Lara. “Contemporary Tibetan Literature from Shangri-La: Literary Life and Activities in Yunnan Tibetan Areas, 1950-2002.” In Contemporary Tibetan Literary Studies. PIATS 2003: Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Oxford 2003. Volume 6, 43–85. Leiden: Brill, 2007.
Maconi, Lara. “One Nation, Two Discourses: Tibetan New Era Literature and the Language Debate.” In Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change, 173–201. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. CLIO Record
“Pema Bhum on Tibetan Literature and the Latse Tibetan Library : An Interview by Gray Tuttle.” In Contemporary Tibetan Literary Studies: PIATS 2003 : Tibetan Studies : Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the IATS, Oxford, 2003, 10/6:147–56. Brill’s Tibetan Studies Library. Leiden: Brill, 2007.  CLIO Record
Robin, Francoise. “Death in Contemporary Tibetan Poetry.” Lungta, no. Contemporary Tibetan Literature (Summer 1999): 49–56.
———. “‘Oracles and Demons’ in Tibetan Literature Today: Representations of Religion in Tibetan-Medium Fiction.” In Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change, 148–72. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. CLIO Record
———. “Stories and History: The Emergence of Historical Fiction in Contemporary Tibet.” In Contemporary Tibetan Literary Studies, 23–42. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2007.
———. “’Khor Ba’i Snying Bo =  The Essence of Samsara.” Translated by Francoise Robin. Latse Library Newsletter 1 (2003): 16–25.
“Modern Tibetan Literature and the Rise of Writer Coteries.” In Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change, 263–80. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. CLIO Record
Schiaffini-Vedani, Patricia. “Changing Identities: The Creation of ‘Tibetan’ Literary Voices in the PRC.” In Contemporary Tibetan Literary Studies. PIATS 2003: Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Oxford 2003, 6:111–31. Leiden: Brill, 2007.
———.“The ‘Condor’ Flies over Tibet: Zhaxi Dawa and the Significance of Tibetan Magical Realism.” In Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change, 202–24. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. CLIO Record
———. “On the Margins of Tibetanness: Three Decades of Sinophone Tibetan Literature.” In Sinophone Studies: A Critical Reader, 281–95. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. CLIO Record
Shakya, Tsering. “Development of Modern Tibetan Literature in the People’s Republic of China in the 1980s.” In Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change, 61–85. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. CLIO Record
———. “Waterfall and Fragrant Flowers: The Development of Tibetan Literature since 1950.” Manoa: Song of the Snow Lion 12, no. 2 (2000): 28–40.
Venturino, Steven J. “Placing Tibetan Fiction in a World of Literary Studies: Jamyang Norbu’s The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes.” In Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change, 301–26. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. CLIO Record
Virtanen, Riika J. “Development and Urban Space in Contemporary Tibetan Literature.” In Modern Tibetan Literature and Social Change, 236–62. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. CLIO Record
———. “Images of Love in Don Grub Rgyal’s Short Stories.” In Mapping the Modern in Tibet, edited by Gray Tuttle, 419–34. PIATS 2006 : Tibetan Studies: Proceddings of the Eleventh Seminar of the IATS, Konigswinter 2006. Andiast: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies GmbH, 2011. CLIO Record
———. “Tibetan Women in the Prose of Tsering Yangkyi.” Himalayan Discoveries : An Interdisciplinary Journal on Himalayan Studies 1, no. 1 (2013): 125–58.

 

Online Resources

High Peaks Pure Earth

A current and rich resource for following Tibetan literary and related cultural trends.  Primarily English translations. Covers in Tibet and in exile.

Tibet Writes

Focus on writings by Tibetan writers in exile. Primarily works in English.

ཁ་བརྡ།

This Tibetan online forum frequently features original contemporary Tibetan writings by contributors.

 

Related Video

Tibetan and Himalayan Library (THL) Audio-Video Collections

32 video clips, including "Participant Interviews from the First Young Tibetan Women's Literature Training"; and lectures at the First Young Tibetan Women's Literature Training by Dulhagyal ('Brug-lha-rgyal), Pematso (Padma 'tsho), Dongrub Tsering (Don grub tshe ring), and Pema Bangchen (Padma dbang chen).