In the high Altai Mountains of northern Mongolia, a young shepherd boy comes of age, tending his family's flocks on the mountain steppes. Under the influence of the Soviet Union, nomadic traditions confront a modernization that is at once devastating and alluring.
Knowing little more than hearsay of the world beyond his mountains, the young boy experiences its changes in deeply personal terms. First, his older sister and brother leave the family yurt to attend a new boarding school. Their absence is followed shortly by the death of the boy's beloved grandmother, and with her his closest connection to the old ways. But the greatest tragedy strikes when his dog, Arsylang, ingests poison set out by the boy's father to protect his herd from wolves.
Framed by the spectacular peaks of the Altai and the harsh duration of its winters, the daily rhythms of nomadic life take on a shimmering depth. Whether looking out from the heights as he awaits the return of his siblings from school or singing to his ewes under the cold, star-filled sky, the boy shares his world in a narrative that is both magical and vivid.
Rooted in the oral traditions of the Tuvan people and their epics, Galsan Tschinag weaves the tale of a boy poised on the cusp of a manhood with the story of a people on the threshold.