Uuganaa is a Mongol living in Britain, far from the world she grew up in: as a nomadic herder she lived in a yurt, eating marmot meat, distilling vodka from goat’s yoghurt and learning about Comrade Lenin. When her new-born son Billy is diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, she finds herself facing bigotry and taboo as well as heartbreak.
Though the book is a touching memoir to Billy’s sadly short life, it also tells of Uuganaa’s own upbringing in Mongolia. It’s a blend of cultures and superstition regarding illness, and it’s told through her gentle yet determined writing; she is strong, and will not allow any bitterness to seep through where others may have.
Mongol is honest, and told from a very unique place – one of the few people able to comment on the misuse of the term from multiple perspectives. This is a brave and moving book, and one that shows the author’s determination to educate others, turning her grief into something powerful.
It’s not a style of book I’d normally pick up, but definitely a worthwhile read. I also just randomly went to Google and found this article, which I think shows really nicely what she’s trying to do.