We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies

Category: Book
By (author): Lama, Tsering Yangzom
Subject:  FICTION / Canadian
  FICTION / Cultural Heritage
  FICTION / Literary
  FICTION / Sagas
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Published: May 2022
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 368
Size: 9.00in x 6.12in
Our Price:
$ 24.95
Available to order

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*

A haunting first novel that recounts a Tibetan family's fifty-year journey through exile and their struggles to forge new lives of dignity, love, and hope. Named one of Publishers Weekly's Writers to Watch, and a most anticipated book of the year by The Millions and Ms.

In the wake of China's invasion of Tibet throughout the 1950s, Lhamo and her sister, Tenkyi, arrive at a refugee camp on the border of Nepal, having survived the dangerous journey across the Himalayas into exile when so many others did not. As Lhamo-haunted by the loss of her homeland and her mother, the village oracle-tries to rebuild a life amid a shattered community, hope arrives in the form of a young man named Samphel and his uncle, who brings with him the ancient statue of the Nameless Saint, a relic long rumoured to vanish and reappear in times of need.
     Decades later, the sisters are separated, and Tenkyi is living with Lhamo's daughter, Dolma, in Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood. While Tenkyi works as a cleaner and struggles with traumatic memories, Dolma vies for a place as a scholar of Tibetan Studies. But when Dolma comes across the Nameless Saint in a collector's vault, she must decide what she is willing to do for her community, even if it means risking her dreams.
     Breathtaking in scope and powerfully intimate, We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies is a gorgeously written meditation on colonization, displacement, and the lengths we'll go to remain connected to our families and ancestral lands. Told through the lives of four people over fifty years, this beautifully lyrical debut novel provides a nuanced portrait of the world of Tibetan exiles.

Review Quote*

Advance Praise for
We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies
"We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies showcases a writer of rare talent and uncompromising vision. In these pages that speak of exile and loss, of longing and sorrow, Tsering Lama also manages to remind us–with startling beauty and compassion- how much can still survive. This novel is a testament to a people's resolve to love, no matter what. A triumph." 
-Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King

"Tsering Yangzom Lama's debut announces a thrilling new talent in global literature. A gorgeous, thoughtful novel, one that wrestles with history and culpability in ways that feel moving and profound."
-Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling

"A true polished gem of a novel, every sentence is a revelation. Built out of both myth and history, Tsering Lama's first novel marks the debut of a stunning new voice."
-Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success
"[A] heartfelt and magical saga of a Tibetan family's love, sacrifice, and heritage … Lama imbues this mesmerizing tale-informed by her own family fleeing Tibet for Nepal in the 1960s-with a rich sense of history, mysticism, and ritual." 
-Publishers Weekly

"This symphonic novel sweeps like a long wave to its transcendent, devastating conclusion. A story about the violence of exile, but also about the bright threads of love that tie these characters to their culture, their ancestral land, and each other: an intelligent, adaptable love that offers them their survival. Sentence by sentence, Lama builds an unforgettable world, sharpened by the force of her characters' longing. You must hand your heart over to this astonishing novel-it will be better for the breaking."
-Shruti Swamy, author of The Archer and A House Is a Body
"[An] achingly beautiful debut." 
-Booklist (starred review)

"Tsering Lama's wise and devastating debut implores readers to consider what it means to live in exile, what it feels like to never belong. Through the heartbreaking, yet hopeful story of one Tibetan family's struggle to survive and their yearning for liberation, she delivers a stirring love letter to a country and culture. We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies captured my heart and mind. A must-read and a marvel."
-Jessamine Chan, author of The School for Good Mothers
"We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies asks what happens when colonialism and cruelty take your homeland. Is it gone forever? What remains in the mind and heart? Can loss be restored? A haunting novel of family and exile, written with beauty, authenticity, and grace." 
-David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife

"The novel thrives as a story about sisterhood, parenthood, and the heart-piercing feeling of exile … A smart, sweeping story about the abuse and transformation of a culture stripped of its country." 
-Kirkus Reviews

Biographical Note

Tsering Yangzom Lama holds a BA in creative writing and international relations from the University of British Columbia, and an MFA from Columbia University. Born and raised in Nepal, Tsering has lived in Toronto, New York City, and Vancouver, where she now resides. We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies is her first novel.