Dragon Bones

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 April, 2011, 12:00am


Dragon Bones
by Murray Gunn
Blacksmith Books HK$136

If only Murray Gunn had been more circumspect about using his marriage to write about Bhutan - or using Bhutan to write about his marriage. The author of Dragon Bones begins the book by explaining the circumstances leading to his betrothal to Dominique. 'When the 'marry him or go alone' ultimatum came through from her employer, there hadn't been time to think,' he writes. His wife, an agro-economic engineer, had been asked to help Bhutanese farmers expand their dairy industry. So begins a story of culture shock, discovery and understanding. Gunn, who works in IT, learns about the land of Gross National Happiness at first-hand, and often it is the opposite sentiment he discovers. Men boast about Night Hunting (entering a home uninvited to have sex with a woman), but many see this as rape and want it outlawed. He also meets a girl whose family was expelled in 1990 with other Southern Bhutanese because they didn't have land deeds saying they had been there for 50 years. They now live in a refugee camp in Nepal. Expunging the diary-like entries and the fresh-off-the-boat observations would have made this a better book.