I tried very hard to allow the Bhutanese people in Dragon Bones to tell their own stories and to minimise the bias created by my beliefs, my mood and other aspects of my life. I knew it was an impossible task before I began writing, so I provided clues to my own state of mind in the story and made it clear when I was describing my reactions to an event rather than the event itself.
I wanted readers to experience Bhutanese life themselves and to learn about the Bhutanese culture without forming opinions. There is so much that is good in Bhutan and so much that is discomforting to a foreigner, but of course neither is true for the locals – it’s all just life. If readers were to make judgements, I hoped they would be of my decisions and actions rather than of the local people who were acting according to their own culture and local norms. As the outsider, it was my job to learn and to fit in, but I didn’t always succeed.
I hope this guide will be useful to book clubs and to any classes that may read Dragon Bones. As with all my writing, the focus is on cultural understanding and tolerance. If I have given people a taste of the fascinating Bhutanese culture and generated discussion around tolerance, I will be satisfied.
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