While the Gods Were Sleeping
A Journey Through Love and Rebellion in Nepal
By Elizabeth Enslin
Published by Seal Press
Paperback: 304 pages
September 23, 2014; $16.00 US/ $20.95 CAN; 9781580055444
Love and marriage brought American anthropologist Elizabeth Enslin to a world she never planned to make her own: a life among Brahman in-laws in a remote village in the plains of Nepal. As she faced the challenges of married life, birth, and childrearing in a foreign culture, she discovered as much about human resilience, and the capacity for courage, as she did about herself.
While the Gods Were Sleeping: A Journey Through Love and Rebellion in Nepal tells a compelling story of a woman transformed in intimate and unexpected ways. Set against the backdrop of increasing political turmoil in Nepal, Enslin’s story takes us deep into the lives of local women as they claim their rightful place in society — and make their voices heard.
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A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to the Rural Health Education Service Trust (RHEST) for projects dedicated to improving women’s reproductive health in rural Nepal.
Elizabeth Enslin, author of While the Gods Were Sleeping: A Journey Through Love and Rebellion in Nepal, grew up in Seattle and went on to earn her PhD in cultural anthropology from Stanford University in 1990. While a graduate student, she married into a Brahman family in the plains of Nepal. Inspired by local women, especially her mother-in-law, she researched women’s organizing, poetics, politics, and agroecology. Her academic essay, “Beyond Writing: Feminist Practice and the Limits of Ethnography,” still inspires conversations about feminism and the ethics of research and activism.
Enslin returned to the Pacific Northwest in 1995 and earned her living as a high school and college teacher, a grant writer, and an independent consultant. She has published creative nonfiction and poetry in The Gettysburg Review, Crab Orchard Review, The High Desert Journal, The Raven Chronicles, Opium Magazine, and In Posse Review and received an Individual Artist Fellowship Award from the Oregon Arts Commission and an honorable mention for the Pushcart Prize.
She currently lives in a strawbale house in the canyon country of northeastern Oregon, where she raises garlic, pigs, and yaks. While the Gods Were Sleeping is her first book.
“I am fascinated and haunted by Elizabeth Enslin’s story. It will stay with you and won’t let you go.”
— Luis Alberto Urrea, bestselling author of Into the Beautiful North and The Hummingbird’s Daughter
“If this fascinating, important story doesn’t draw you into Enslin’s telling of her time in Nepal, then the beautiful, moving prose will.”
— Kerry Cohen, author of Seeing Ezra
“A fascinating memoir written with such clarity and honesty that it’s like taking a years-long trip through a little-known part of Nepal, far from the glamour and tourists of Kathmandu. Enslin’s story is utterly unique yet broadly representative of billions of humans in so-called marginal places all over the world caught between tradition, politics, idealism, human nature, the environment, the local economy, the decidedly mixed blessings of globalization, and the simple pleasures of food, family, and the natural world.”
— Pamela Olson, author of Fast Times in Palestine
“This finely written memoir transports the reader into a society on the cusp of social and political transformation. The barriers to gender, caste, and class equality that Elizabeth Enslin reveals continue to impede Nepal’s quest for democracy today. This is an inspiring and challenging read for activists, rebels, and dreamers everywhere.”
— Manjushree Thapa, author of Forget Kathmandu
“Elizabeth Enslin is a daring original, both in life and on the page. While the Gods Were Sleeping is a love story, an adventure narrative, and an anthropological study in one, written with a global awareness, free of the exoticism we associate with foreigners in Nepal. Sharply observant and full of wisdom.”
— Alden Jones, author of The Blind Masseuse
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