Red Poppies is the story of the wealthy Maiqi family: its powerful chieftain, his Han Chinese wife, his first son and heir, and his second, "idiot" son, the novel's narrator and unlikely hero. The time is the 1930s, the setting a stone fortress overlooking all that the family rules on the arid plains of inner Tibet, with its scattered populace of peasant farmers, merchants, and comical local lamas. A feud breaks out with a neighboring chieftain; an emissary of the Chinese Nationalists comes to the Maiqi's aid with the tools of modern warfare. In exchange, fields of poppies, valuable in the Nationalist-backed heroin trade, are to be planted instead of grain in a deal that enriches the Maiqi's lavish lifestyle and earns them dangerous enmity.Ambitious, sensuous, filled with intriguing characters, panoramic settings, and high drama, Red Poppies opens a window on pre-occupation Tibet, dispelling many of the popular myths of a pacifistic society peopled by devout worshipers.More
"It succeeds marvelously as a wacky and immensely enjoyable portrait of a thoroughly unusual figure." (Publishers Weekly)
"Shrewdly satiric and wonderfully entertaining." (Booklist)
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