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Leaving Mother Lake: A Girlhood at the Edge of the Worldby Yang Erche Namu and Christine Mathieu
Synopses & Reviews
This lyrical evocation of girlhood in a remote Himalayan village where women truly rule is now in paperback.
In the remote Himalayas, on the shores of Lake Lugu, there is a place the Chinese call "the Country of Daughters." This is the home of the Moso, a remarkable culture in which women govern all aspects of society. Daughters are prized above sons and both live their entire lives in the house where they were born. Leaving Mother Lake is the extraordinary story of Yang Erche Namu, where life among the Moso is revealed for the first time in fascinating, intimate detail.
From Namu we learn of a young girl's "skirt ceremony," of how courtship is conducted through dance and song, and of the private "flower chambers" where young women consort with their lovers. Despite the freedoms Namu enjoys, they aren't the freedoms she desires. Her impulsive, restless nature drives her to leave her mother's house, defying the tradition that holds Moso culture together. She learns she must venture out into the larger world to see better the one she leaves behind.
The world of the Moso and Namu's place in it makes for a story full of drama, strangeness, and beauty. Yet for all the exoticism, Leaving Mother Lake is a universal tale of mothers and daughters — the battles that drive them apart and the love that brings them back together.
"Beguiling....Namu describes a primitive and generous society that seems Utopian." Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today
"Most readers will find themselves rooting for Namu....While not a stylistic masterpiece, the book brims with vivid descriptions of a fascinating culture." Publishers Weekly
"A fascinating look at a unique culture and a determined, ambitious young woman. (Coauthor Mathieu's afterword provides more insight into Moso culture from an anthropological standpoint.)" Kristine Huntley, Booklist
"This memoir vividly conveys the bitter cold of mountain nights and strained relationships, along with the warmth of hearth, hospitality, and deep understanding. A fascinating glimpse at a unique culture and the melding of two worlds in a journey to adulthood." School Library Journal
"At last, a memoir that delivers a life worth remembering!...This book enchanted me — the tale and the telling." Lynn Freed, author of House of Women
"Haunting....[A] historical document of a unique time and place and the universal tale of a mother's fierce love and a daughter's attempt to straddle two worlds." Jill Wolfson, San Jose Mercury News
"An absolutely wonderful history of a woman and a place. I was stunned by the lineage of women described in this 'country of daughters' — by their complete control over the customs of love, family, and property. Somewhere between Kingston's Woman Warrior and Robert Graves's The White Goddess, this book creates a world of magic and ritual, song making and passion that has the powerful ring of truth." Victoria Cass, author of Dangerous Women: Warriors, Grannies and Geishas of the Ming
"Yang and Mathieu have written a fascinating portrait of a young girl who grows up in a matrilineal society in a remote region of China and becomes a star. Leaving Mother Lake will take readers on an incredible journey to a part of the world most of us never knew existed." May-lee Chai, author of The Girl From Purple Mountain and My Lucky Face
This remarkable memoir transports us to the remote reaches of the Himalayas, to a place the Chinese call "the country of daughters," to the home of the Moso, a society in which women rule men. According to local tradition, marriage is considered a foreign practice; property is passed from mother to daughter; a matriarch oversees each family's customs, rituals, and economies. In this culture a young girl enjoys extraordinary freedoms — but the impulsive, restless Namu is driven to leave her mother's house, to venture out into the larger world, defying the tradition that holds Moso culture together. Leaving Mother Lake is a book filled with drama, strangeness, and beauty. Yet for all the exoticism, Namu's story is a universal tale of mothers and daughters — the battles that drive them apart and the love that brings them back together.
About the Author
Yang Erche Namu is a popular singer in China. She lives in Beijing, Geneva, and San Francisco.
Christine Mathieu, one of the first Westerners to be granted access to study the Moso, lives in San Francisco and is a professor of anthropology at St. Mary's College of California.
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