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Distributed for Zubaan Books

The Circle of Karma

The first English-language novel ever written by a woman from the Himalayan nation of Bhutan, The Circle of Karma has engaged and absorbed readers from around the world since its 2005 publication.

Written originally in English, it tells the story of Tsomo, a fifteen-year-old girl caught up in the everyday realities of household life and work. But when her mother dies, Tsomo suddenly feels called to travel and sets off toward a faraway village to light ritual butter lamps in her mother’s memory. Her travels take her to distant places, across Bhutan and into India, evolving into a major life journey. As she faces the world alone, Tsomo slowly begins to find herself, growing as a person and as a woman.

Kunzang Choden’s measured, nuanced prose and multilevel narrative weave a complex tapestry of life and its rituals in Bhutan and across South Asia. Newly reissued as part of Zubaan’s anniversary celebrating a decade of cutting-edge feminist publishing, this extraordinary novel is poised to be discovered by a broad and enthusiastic new audience.

328 pages | 5 x 8 | © 2005


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The Circle of Karma is a milestone in South Asian literature. . . . What makes it work is Choden’s gift for evocation, both of place and of experience. Her descriptions of the rugged spiritual terrain Tsomo covers in her quest for peace and her moments of ecstasy reminded me of other great religious works, such as Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter.”

Ann Morgan | A Year of Reading Round the World blog

Table of Contents


Being a Daughter

We are Different

Games and Pains

Also a Custom

Mother’s Child

Death and Birth




Road to Nowhere

An Explosive Within

Where do We Go from Here?

Beginning Again

Pilgrim’s Path

Passionate Pilgrim’s

A Marriage Proposal

Scorpions and Compassion

The Heart of a Pig

Hundreds of Shoulder Bags

Deception and Rage

The Burden of Dignity

A Piece of Her Nose

Praying for the Priests

The Vows

The Last Smile

The Circle of Karma


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