by Michael Benanav
A gorgeous work of literary journalism that follows a nomadic family’s fraught migration to the high Himalayan plains in a rapidly changing world.
In the vein of Tim Cope’s On the Trail of Genghis Khan and Scott Wallace’s The Unconquered, Himalaya Bound tells the story of one man’s immersion with a tribe of nomadic water buffalo herders on their annual spring migration into the Himalayas. Even more than a glimpse into a rarely seen and endangered way of life, this beautiful book is an exploration of the relationship between humankind and wild lands and the effect conservation efforts on the species and peoples they are meant to protect.
Michael Benanav, the acclaimed author of Men of Salt, spent forty-four days living, walking, eating, and sleeping alongside the Van Gujjars, a hidden tribe of forest-dwelling nomads in northern India. Over the course of the tribe’s annual migration to the Himalayas, Benanav documented their traditional way of life, but there was trouble on the trail: the forest department threatened to block the nomadic families from the ancestral summer pastures they relied on for the survival of their herds. Benanav was arrested as a political agitator in an attempt to defend them, and the Van Gujjars were forced to make a dangerous change of course to a new and uncharted destination.
Intimate and gripping, Himalaya Bound offers a fascinating account of a seldom-seen way of life and reveals their arduous quest to save their buffaloes. Benavav reveals the hopes, fears, hardships, and joys of a people who wonder if there is still a place for them on this planet. Culminating in a daring rescue―Benanav explores larger truths about the murkier sides of conservationism, asking vital questions: Can humans be natural, native parts of environmental ecosystems, or are they by definition invasive species? Does removing native tribes from an ecosystem pull one thread of a natural tapestry, pulling others along with it in a dangerous chain reaction?
Laced with accounts of indigenous cultures from India to Yellowstone, from Jordan to Kenya, Himalaya Bound both celebrates and mourns an ancient way of life, and reveals an unlikely battleground in the fight to save the planet.
North American publisher: Pegasus Books, January 2018
Indian publisher: HarperCollins India, 2015
Foreign rights contact: Pegasus Books
Film/TV rights contact: Rachel Crawford, Wolf Literary Services
[Benanav’s] portrait of the land and its little-known nomads is impressively closely observed. An involving, often touching story of an admirable people as well as a cautionary tale about the effects of rapid change and counterproductive conservation efforts on traditional societies.”—Kirkus Reviews
Benanav’s portrait of the nomadic Van Gujjar people is compassionate, sensitive, and keenly attuned to the challenges confronted by traditional ways of life around the world. He shows how the modern conservation movement can inadvertently threaten ancient cultures, and he forces us to ask important questions about the relationship between man and nature in India today.”—Akash Kapur, author of India Becoming
This is a lively tale of a life of a nomad, and the unimaginable difficulties it comes with. There is also a rare glimpse into the hidden world of a tribe of vegetarian Muslims, who risk their lives for their animals.”—The Times of India