Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth
Author: Lisa Napoli
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Crown (February 8, 2011)
Genre: Travel, memoir
Source: TLC book promotion review copy
Objective rating: 4/5
Comments: A combination of travel in Bhutan, history, and memoir, Lisa Napoli's book, Radio Shangri-La, describes not only the author's life and how her several trips to Bhutan have affected her personally, but also gives a detailed history of the country, its politics, religion, customs, and people. Bhutan is a land-locked country in South Asia, bordered on the east, west and south by India and on the north by China. It's set spectacularly at the east end of the Himalayas.
Isolated from the rest of the world by decree, Bhutan requires that tourists pay a tax of $250 per day to stay in the country. The result is a country still pristine, non commercial, even though it is becoming more modernized, politically and economically. Bhutan measures progress not in terms of economic advancement, however, but in levels of happiness - the Gross National Happiness index.
The book: A former radio journalist in Los Angeles, Lisa Napoli decides to leave her disappointing life behind and travel to the other side of the globe to help start Bhutan’s first youth-oriented radio station, Kuzoo FM. She finds fulfillment in her work there and a new acceptance of herself while living in the stark beauty of this country nestled in the Himalayas
The work Lisa does to help develop Kuzoo FM puts her in close contact with the young people, the local community, as well as the small group of foreigners in Bhutan, and she gives some interesting accounts of her contacts. In the U.S., in between trips to Bhutan, she meets Bhutanese living and working in the U.S. She also witnesses the coming of democracy to the Kingdom and the beginning of modernization. The hefty daily tax for tourists still stays, however, to prevent an overload of tourists that the still-developing country can't yet handle.
When Lisa invites one of the young Kuzoo announcers to visit her radio station in the U.S., I could understand when she became frantic when the adventurous girl wanted to stay beyond the time set by her visa. Everything turned out okay in the end, however.
For those who enjoy memoirs and travel books, following Lisa's experiences in the little known Asian country of Bhutan in Radio Shangri-La will be more than rewarding.
Click here for an Excerpt
Lisa Napoli and blog: Everything Bhutan.
Radio Shangri-La Book Drive: Books to Bhutan
From TLC: Lisa will talk to book clubs by speaker phone or Skype, or in person if they are in the Los Angeles area (she claims she will even bring a real live Bhutanese person to your meeting if you're in LA!). Her book is the featured prize in the TLC Book Club of the Month Contest in February:
Catch all the reviews of the book at the following stops: http://tlcbooktours.com/
Thanks to Lisa at TLC Book Tours for this book tour opportunity.
© Harvee Lau 2011