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Joshua Hammer…[Napoli's] affectionate portrait of life in a slower-paced, high-altitude society…[an] absorbing, often touching memoir…
—The New York Times
“[An] affectionate portrait of life in a slower-paced, high altitude society…[an] absorbing, often touching memoir.” --The New York Times
"From the moment she walks off the plane, Ms. Napoli knows she's a universe away... [She] is infatuated with Bhutan, and...has an eye for a good story."--Wall Street Journal
“Joyful….You’ll close the book wishing you could head to Bhutan on the next plane.”--Toronto Star
"A rare gift....Radio Shangri-La is much more than just a story of a midlife crisis. It’s the chronicle of a country barreling toward change, and a woman’s search for what happiness really means at any age."--Christian Science Monitor
"Napoli's wry voice and honest insights create a thoughtful, engaging narrative...[she] avoids romanticizing Bhutan while capturing the country's unique charm."--The Globe and Mail
"Comparisons to the wildly popular Eat Pray Love,’ Elizabeth Gilbert’s international travel romp through meals, meditation, and men, are easy to see...In a refreshing twist on the female travel memoir, Napoli stands brilliantly apart from [Elizabeth] Gilbert in that, in the end, she chooses herself and not another man."--Boston.com
"Lovely and fascinating."--Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Radio Shangri-La reminded me of Deborah Rodriguez’s 2007 bestselling Kabul Beauty School. Only better, if for no other reason than the writing here is just so sharp and terrific…Journalist Napoli writes stylishly about physical and spiritual renewal. Part travel memoir, part crossroads handbook, Radio Shangri-La is unforgettable.—JanuaryMagazine.com
"Fascinating."--Spirituality & Practice
“Radio Shangri-La has shades of Pico Iyer and Bruce Chatwin and a similar genius for parachuting the reader into a strange land and culture. Bhutan has long fascinated me and Radio Shangri-La is the perfect vehicle to get there."– Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
"Radio Shangri-La is a beautiful, touching and deeply compelling memoir by a well-known public radio reporter who arrived in the tranquil kingdom of Bhutan to help establish the nation's first radio station and, as important, to further her own mid-life assessment of a life that felt full of missteps. The book is delightful reading--honest, moving and quietly spiritual as it offers both an intimate portrait of a country only halfway to modernity and a soul in quest of meaning."--Scott Turow, author of Innocent
"Radio Shangri-La grabs you by the heart and takes you on a winding dual journey -- into the self and into a fairy tale kingdom known for measuring happiness as its gross national product. Charming, illuminating, and often ironic, this memoir is a continuous discovery of myths and realities in finding deeper personal meaning."--Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club and Saving Fish from Drowning
"Bummed out in midlife, [Lisa] Napoli went to Bhutan to volunteer at the country's first youth-oriented radio station...She reveals the truths--and, yes, happiness--she found there. Perfect for everyone who loves finding-yourself-through-travel memoirs."-- Library Journal
"Enjoyable memoir about ex-journalist Napoli’s search for wholeness and spiritual renewal. A refreshingly uplifting book."--Kirkus Reviews
Enjoyable memoir about ex-journalist Napoli's search for wholeness and spiritual renewal.
The author provides a readable account of her life-changing decision to leave the comforts of her cosmopolitan Los Angeles life and serve as a volunteer at Kuzoo FM 90, a radio station for young people in the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Disillusioned with her love life and fed up with her job as a public-radio commentator, Napoli took a chance on a mysterious stranger's offer of unpaid work in a country where "[b]eing, not having" and "[h]appiness above wealth" were the prevailing national philosophies. For six weeks, the author immersed herself in an ancient but vibrant culture just emerging from centuries of self-imposed isolation. During her time there, she experienced endless fascination, but also sadness, caused by the Bhutanese obsession with television and all things Western. At the same time, Napoli discovered the beginnings of a joy and personal healing that had eluded her at home. After her first visit, she returned to Bhutan two more times. Knowing she couldn't stay for long, she decided to "bring a bit of Bhutan to me" and sponsored a young female radio jockey, Ngawang Pem, to come to Los Angeles. In search of a way to stay in the United States and explore her version of the American dream, Ngawang eventually disappeared to New York before going back to Bhutan, marrying and inviting the author to become godmother to her unborn son. Napoli ably avoids the first-person trap of self-absorption through memorable depictions of the people and places in her narrative. She also skirts clichés about the world-weary Westerner who finds renewal in a short-term encounter with the exotic through the open-ended story of intercultural exchange. Although she ended the journey unmarried, childless and uncertain of her future, the author gained the hard-won conviction "that what I gave was more important than what I got."
The author's authentic voice and light, pleasant cultural insights make for a refreshingly uplifting book.
The next day, I sat in our midtown offices trying to motivate myself to research a story about rich young couples who were trading the plush suburbs surrounding New York City for a new crop of multimillion-dollar kid-friendly condo complexes being built right in the heart of Manhattan. With enough money, you could now have a family without disrupting your metropolitan lifestyle. Among other luxuries, like on-staff dog walkers and a wine cellar, these buildings offered concierges to assist the nannies. An email popped into my inbox and saved me from my internal rant about conspicuous consumption and the decline of civilization. The very sight of the man’s name made my heart beat faster.
It was great to meet you last night. I owe you a drink for all that change you dug up for me. When can you get together?
Sebastian and Harris were leaving on their journey in just a few days, and by the time they returned, I’d be back home in Los Angeles. I could find a way to see him tonight. My calendar was totally open after work. I liked it that way, and this invitation reinforced why: The most interesting experiences seemed to happen spontaneously—just the opposite of how most everything worked in New York City, where every moment had to be planned by the quarter hour, lest you felt as if you might be “wasting” a bit of your precious time.
And yet I found myself hesitating to accept this invitation. I’d witnessed many a friend as they sabotaged or just plain avoided opportunities out of some sort of unexpressed fear that success or happiness might result. They became riddled with anxiety and self-loathing before they’d even sent in that cover letter or gone on that date. Now here I was, similarly paralyzed.
The voice of this other me politely declined. It was easy to justify not seeing him. We lived on opposite sides of the country; launching into a relationship that was destined to be long-distance was preposterous, a mistake I’d made in the past that I’d vowed not to repeat. My, I was getting way, way ahead of myself.
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted July 23, 2011
No text was provided for this review.
Posted July 31, 2011
No text was provided for this review.