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Blue Poppies
Jonathan Falla

6 x 9 • 224 pages
ISBN 9781903238370 • paperback • $15.00

It is 1950. In a remote Tibetan village, on the border with China, Puton, a young woman, crippled and widowed in a terrifying attack, and now seen as an omen of bad luck by the villagers, meets a stranger—a young Scot, Jamie. He is in the village to set up a radio post. Both are lonely and isolated. Puton is scared of the locals and the Chinese; Jamie is homesick. As their attraction for each other grows, Communist China invades Tibet. The villagers must flee to safety, and led by Jamie, and his friend, Nima, a Buddhist monk and herbalist, the caravan tries to dodge the army, led by a vengeful Chinese commander. The villagers' epic journey, exhilarating and appalling by turns, is an adventure both dangerous and harrowing, with an ending few would expect in this vital rush against time.

Throughout the book there are echoes of Chaucer, beautifully crafted snapshots of Tibetan life, and detailed cameos of exhausted villagers torn between their need to survive and the love for their country and one another. But the true romantic vision in the book is that of an inquisitive stranger in a foreign land. Written with a light and sensitive touch, Blue Poppies is a dramatic, fast-moving story that paints a vivid picture of Tibetan life in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Although charged with emotion, it is also a thoughtful and unsentimental portrayal of the country.

Jonathan Falla grew up in the south of England, and now lives in Fife. He works as a nurse and is an award-winning dramatist. For many years he worked abroad and headed medical teams during famine, civil war, and refugee crises in Sudan and Nepal.

Media Reviews
'This is an epic love story, and a fine first novel. You'll be lucky to read a better one this year.' Scotsman, Christmas Books of the Year

'Blue Poppies is an engaging historical tale intelligently and imaginatively told.' Times Literary Supplement

'A fine and unflowery writer who delivers a punchy plot free of misty-eyed sentiment.' Sunday Herald

'Blue Poppies is an accomplished story and as good as any we'll see published in Scotland this year.' Carl MacDougall, Herald

'A finely paced and plotted novel with plenty of exciting action.' Christopher Whyte, Scotland on Sunday

'Most authors appear to live on a very small planet; Jo Falla's world is a phenomenally big place. His vivid and authoritative fiction offers us the chance to experience - from the inside - life beyond Western frontiers, beyond Western preconceptions. In his company, we cease to be newspaper-skimmers or camera-toting tourists, and go straight to the heart of cultures that are exhilaratingly, sometimes frighteningly different from our own.' Michel Faber, author of Under the Skin, Some Rain Must Fall, The Courage Consort, The One Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps

'A dashed good thriller... beautifully-written and good history too' Jack McLean, Herald "One of the main aspects of Blue Poppies is Falla's refusal to bow to Hollywood-sponsored cliches. Far from being the baby-eating Commies of popular imagination, the Chinese here are shown as tough but not unnecessarily cruel, preferring to win over the conquered with an open hand rather than a clenched fist... Falla is a fine and unflowery writer who delivers a punchy plot free of misty-eyed sentiment, yet it is crowned by one of the year's saddest endings."-Sunday Herald "Jonathan Falla's debut novel confounds the stereotype of the first novel. It is assured, confident, without a trace of self-indulgence. It knows where it's going from the start, and that's nowhere near home..."-Scotsman

"A delightful debut novel... in what is at times a very dark and harrowing tale, Falla manages to enchant with his characters and to allow you to associate with their peculiarities. Jonathan Falla makes this a bewitching read which stirs up a multitude of emotions from love and longing to anger and disgust. You can't help but support this fine novel's characters in their long journey to freedom."-List

"This is a beautifully written story; sad, gently humourous and exciting and one can feel the affection of the author for the people and landscape-brilliant, I read it in one sitting and give it a five/five star rating!"-newBOOKS.mag

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