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14:56 Mar 30 2009

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English>>Tibet Online>>Economy
New page for the modern Tibetan novel
14:40, March 30, 2009  

Jampel Gyatso published the novel Kelzang Metog in Chinese in 1980, followed by a Tibetan version in 1981. A winner of many national awards, the novel details the stories of PLA soldiers who journeyed into Tibet and brought peaceful liberation to the area between 1950 and 1951.

More than 100,000 copies of the novel have been sold. Among novels by Tibetan writers and on Tibetan subjects, Kelzang Metog is second only to Red Poppies (Chen Ai Luo Ding) by A Lai.

"Like the first flower of spring, the novel ushered in a brand new period for modern Tibetan literature," Jampel recalls with pride.

However, it took the flower 20 years to blossom. In 1959, Jampel received a letter from a comrade who was fighting rebels in Ngali, western Tibet. After the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, upper-class Tibetan officials, serf-owners and lamas had been struggling to maintain their privileges in the feudal serfdom that combined power with religion.

Jampel's comrade said the struggles were fierce on the frontiers and entrusted Jampel with reflecting the great historic changes. News soon came that his friend had died in a battle. Deeply grieved, Jampel picked up the pen in 1960.

The "cultural revolution" (1966-1976) postponed the novel's publication for two decades. Some critiques say Jampel is the prototype of the protagonist Penpa, who left his family of porters to become a PLA soldier.

"I didn't write it that way. I was only telling the truth in the new birth of Tibet," says Jampel Gyatso, whose name is the same as that of the 8th Dalai Lama (1758-1804).

Originally called Kelsang Tsering (good luck and longevity), he was told to change it because Kelsang Tsering was a powerful man in his hometown Batang, Sichuan province. A teacher renamed him Jampel Gyatso (sea of wisdom).

Back in Lhasa in the 1950s, Jampel once translated for Li Jue, chief of staff of the Tibet Military Command. Surkhang Kalon, a high level official who later left Tibet with Dalai, sneered at Jampel and said: "You are just a Khampa (a branch of the Tibetan people), how can you have this name?"

When Li found out what Jampel and the Kalon were talking about, he laughed: "Good. Study well and become a real 'sea of wisdom'."

"Only the Communist Party and the PLA acknowledge my name," says Jampel with deep emotions.

Jampel Gyatso, former interpreter for the Dalai Lama (Source: China Daily)

Source: China Daily

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