In a circular valley beneath the looming peaks of the Himalaya lies Kathmandu, Nepal. It’s a city of shimmering prayer flags, sacred cows, lavish festivals, and violent political turbulenceand a world that journalist Jeff Greenwald has come to call home.
Snake Lake unfolds during 1990’s dramatic people power” uprising against Nepal’s long-entrenched monarchy. The story follows Greenwald as he wins the friendship of a high lama who reveals the pillars of Tibetan Buddhism; embarks on a passionate romance with a spunky but curiously unlucky news photographer; and discovers what democracy means to rural Nepali citizensall while covering the revolution for a major American newspaper. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., Greenwald’s brilliant but troubled younger brother descends into a deepening depression. The author is forced to choose between witnessing Nepal’s long-overdue revolution and reconnecting with an alienated brother in desperate need of help.
Snake Lake is primarily a memoir (though the roles of several characters have been recast). Focused on the life-changing events that unfolded during one calamitous spring, the book weaves a vivid tapestry of Buddhism, revolution, and the often serpentine paths to personal liberation.
Praise for Snake Lake "[Snake Lake] rips into revolution and romance, death, and dharma." --Shambhala Sun "Snake Lake is not only an exploration of the depths of loss and a tender portrait of different kinds of love, it's the fruit of many years of coming to know Nepal with an intimacy few travelers attain. A beautiful and moving book." --Henry Shukman, author of The Lost City and Mortimer of the Maghreb "Greenwald's tale is masterfully multi-layered ... As events political and personal unfold, Greenwald interweaves the evolving tale of the [Kathmandu] revolution with his own emotional odyssey through death and love toward enlightenment. In the end, his arduous journey deeply illumines our own." --National Geographic (Book of the Month for October) "Absorbing." --Kirkus "Travel writer Jeff Greenwald's most compelling journey yet. Set against a backdrop of revolution in Nepal, twin narratives--the author's introduction to Buddhism and his brother's suicide--form a compelling caduceus (note clever snake symbolism) of deepening mystery. This is a brave, honest, vivid, and thoughtful book." --Mary Roach "Jeff Greenwald has always been a great travel writer, but in Snake Lake he transcends the genre by taking us on a perilous journey through the human heart. By turns poignant and hilarious, Greenwald molds the dramas of his life into teaching stories, filled with both passion and wisdom." --Wes Nisker, author of The Essential Crazy Wisdom "Funny, informative, sad and precise, this is the best new travel narrative I've read in years." --Tim Cahill, author of Jaguars Ripped My Flesh and Hold the Enlightenment