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  • Into The Hidden Valley A Novel

About the Book

As the British Raj begins its expansion towards Tibet, the remote Apatani valley on the Indo-Tibetan border becomes a flashpoint. George Taylor, an up-and-coming officer in the Indian Civil Service, leads the first expedition into the valley and recommends setting up a base nearby, as the Apatanis are a ‘friendly tribe’. During the expedition, a tenuous bond is established between him and Gyati, the Apatani shaman who has long been anxious about the halyang outsiders creeping closer and closer to the ordered world of the valley. But this bond cannot survive. The increased British presence and their arrogance towards the hill tribes causes resentment; the tension escalates until it culminates in an act that has tragic consequences for both men, and for their sons, Charles and Komo.

Stuart Blackburn vividly brings alive the Apatani worlds: the seen one, perfectly fitted into its valley, with people linked to the land and each other through bonds of reciprocity and tradition, as well as the spirit world, into which shamans enter to invite blessings and navigate the souls of their dead safely to rest. His exploration of what happens when this settled civilization forcibly collides with British Empire-builders sensitively portrays the impact of the forces of colonialism on both sides—and gives readers a nail-biting mystery to solve.

Into the Hidden Valley: A Novel is the winner of M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction 2016. Parnel Bennetts presented the award to Stuart Blackburn at the HNS Conference in Oxford, England.

AUTHOR: Stuart Blackburn


‘A deeply moving, pioneering work in the history of British relations with the tribes of India’s Northeast frontier, Blackburn’s book, like the chant of the shaman, resurrects new spaces and meeting places, like the confluence of rivers—for a more reconciled world.’—Mamang Dai

‘This unusual book is both a terrific page-turner and deeply moving. I could not put it down, and I will not forget what I learned from it.’—Wendy Doniger, author of The Hindus

‘As historical novels go, Into the Hidden Valley is a gem: it takes a relatively remote portion of India and uses it as a microcosm of social, historical, and political observation […] Stuart Blackburn does an outstanding job of pairing the history of Indian, British and Tibetan relationships with the personal story of a son's discoveries about his father's hidden life […] This powerful saga of British/Indian relationships as seen through the eyes, decisions, and choices of one British clerk makes for a riveting story that's hard to put down, bringing Indian and Tibetan history and culture to life. Historical novel enthusiasts will find it a solid, gripping chronicle.' —Midwest Book Review

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Into The Hidden Valley A Novel

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Tags: Into the Hidden Valley, Fiction, History, Stuart Blackbarn