Marija's Reviews > Radio Shangri-la: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth

Radio Shangri-la by Lisa Napoli
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Mar 19, 2011

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We all have one place we’d love to visit “someday.” Bhutan is mine. I read everything I can get my hands on about that obscure country. So when “Radio Shangri-La” came out, I grabbed a copy. Lisa Napoli, in a mid-life rut, got a fantastic opportunity dropped on her lap: consult with Bhutan’s very first radio station, a fledgling start-up run by hip young people.

Napoli lacks the ability to make her stories come alive. I was more than half-way through the book before she provided a very brief day-in-the-life of her consulting job. Her descriptions were so vague, I felt like she was telling someone else’s story. While in Bhutan, she apparently spent more time with ex-pats than natives, so we never got to know the people around her. She didn’t like the food, and she glossed over relationships. While showing her photos to a woman on the plane ride home, she remarks “Here’s Pema getting her hair curled and Pink getting her eyebrows threaded at a beauty ‘saloon’ before a night on the town.” This would have been more effective if she’d actually described that scene while she was there, if she was there. But the snapshot is the one and only mention.

If you’re looking for a book on Bhutan that makes you feel like you’re really there, read Jamie Zeppa’s “Beyond the Sky and the Earth.” Bhutan has changed tremendously since Zeppa’s book was published eleven years ago, but her writing is far superior to Napoli’s.
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