Idea: Though this work is uneven, as it progresses, it becomes increasingly fascinating and immersive. The author’s journey is often moving and inspiring, while the setting is vividly conveyed.
Prose: If at moments prone to being longwinded, Schauch keeps the reader engaged in the story. The author demonstrates a clear gift for creating vibrant imagery.
Originality: While stories of self-discovery and transcendence through travel are familiar, Schauch offers an original focus via the book’s striking setting and the author’s refusal to idealize the lives and circumstances of those he encounters.
Character/Execution: Schauch is appropriately cautious in his storytelling, displaying awareness of his position as a cultural outsider and maintaining respect for the nuances of the culture he closely observes. The result is a candid portrait of a place and one individual’s powerful experience of it.
Date Submitted: November 17, 2020
When planning the trip through Nepal, Mike and Chantal put a team together to document their journey and the Lost Valley of Nar Phu, hoping to bring to light its history and culture and the negative impact modernizing could have. What they ended up experiencing and documenting was much more profound. Each village brought different experiences that opened the eyes of all the travelers, all of which is beautifully documented and brought to life by Mike’s powerful, immersive writing and photographs taken by Chantal and photographer Arek.
What begins as a mountain trek turns into a quest to ensure that a smart, curious little girl named Karma and her sister, Pemba, will receive the best possible education that either Nepal or Canada can offer, while continuing to grow in Tibetan Buddhism and never forgetting where they came from. Schauch relays the extensive research, paperwork, and travel he, Chantal, and Karma’s parents undertook, making tangible the dedication all the adults share to a beautiful future for the girls. This story of cross-cultural love and devotion will move readers.
Takeaway: Readers looking for a beautifully written, moving travel memoir will be drawn in by everyone Mike Schauch and his friends meet in Nepal, especially a little girl named Karma.
Great for fans of: Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard, Dorje Dolma’s Yak Girl: Growing Up in the Remote Dolpo Region of Nepal.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
“A man’s mission to climb a mountain in the Himalaya turns into providing education for children from the most remote region of Nepal. A Story of Karma is a heartfelt and inspiring story about nature and human connection, and the amazing things that happen when you open your heart and mind to the unknown world.”
— Dorje Dolma, author of Yak Girl: Growing Up in the Remote Dolpo Region of Nepal
“Schauch writes a moving story of personal growth and transformation in his encounter with the indigenous peoples of the remote highlands of Upper Manang, Nepal. The desire to climb a peak drew him there, but what changed him forever was the unexpected and extraordinary creation of family ties in Nar-Phu and the role that Tibetan Buddhism played in helping him transcend differences of culture to nurture that family. Read his story with an open heart and mind—it will touch you deeply.”
— Mark Aldenderfer, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Merced and National Geographic Explorer
"Each word ushers you deeper into an external journey to the Himalaya and an internal journey to the heart. Schauch's masterful storytelling transports you to a healing realm where external and internal distinctions dissolve in the beauty of embodied love. Not only is this a tale of transformation for Schauch, the reader, too, is transformed."
— Paula Arai, Ph.D., author of Painting Enlightenment, Bringing Zen Home, and Women Living Zen
“Michael Schauch’s vividly descriptive writing will transport you to a remote Himalayan village and leave you with the taste of yak butter tea on your tongue and the odour of dung-fuelled fires in your clothing. A Story of Karma is a thoughtful and passionate meditation on privilege and poverty, consumerism and spirituality, fate and chance, individualism and community. Above all else, this story is a testament to the power each and every one of us has to generate meaningful and lasting change in our beleaguered world.”
— Jan Redford, author of End of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood
“An intriguing tale that entwines exploration and education. Schauch has a lively and involving narrative voice, and he’s adept at conveying the combination of detail and wonder that one looks for in the best travel writing. He draws the reader smoothly into his dual narratives, and he handles both of them with skill. Fans of travel writing and family narratives will appreciate this work.”
“A Story of Karma is an inspiring story about life, love, compassion, and determination. It’s also about sacrifice and humility. Karma depicts beautiful imagery that pulls the reader in, making the scenes come alive. [Schauch’s] work is also ripe with raw emotion and insight. Feelings are more than surface deep; they radiate through the pages.”
— Jennifer Padgett, Seattle Book Review