Oyungerel Tsedevdamba and Jeff Falt traveled from Mongolia to attend the last Kauai Writers Conference. Their book, The Green Eyed Lama (GEL), became the best selling book in the history of Mongolia, selling over 80,000 copies in that country alone. Since they returned home from the conference, GEL debuted in France (Grasset publisher – French language rights only) as Le Moine Aux Yeux Verts. Oyuna and Jeff traveled to France to help promote the book. There, GEL received considerable press coverage including an article in Le Figaro. Sales continue to be brisk. Late last fall Sixty White Sheep, the second book in Jeff and Oyuna’s quartet, debuted in Mongolia. It has been Mongolia’s number one bestseller every week since it first hit store shelves.
Oyungerel (www.oyungerel.org) grew up a nomadic herder girl in communist Mongolia. Her life’s journey took her to the US where with the support of an extended family at home she was accepted to Stanford University. She returned to Mongolia and became a crusader for human rights after the brutal repression of the Soviet era. Later she was elected a member of the parliament of Mongolia, and has been Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism and advisor to Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia.
One of her many battles to preserve the Mongolian cultural heritage brought her international attention. Mongolia’s Gobi Desert is among the world’s most important sources for dinosaur fossils, but the majority of these wound up being stolen and shipped off to western countries.
Oyungerel stepped in and forced the dramatic repatriation of hundreds of these, including this exquisitely complete skeleton of Tarbosaurus bataar. Have a look at this article, “The Woman Who Saved Mongolia’s Dinosaurs”.
Jeff Falt, Oyungerel’s husband and co-writer, has served as a human rights lawyer and fighter for justice in some of the world’s most dangerous places. He worked in Liberia during the oppressive rule of Charles Taylor; in East Timor during the UN Mandate; in Nepal while the Maoist rebellion had nearly surrounded Kathmandu; and in Sri Lanka monitoring a fragile ceasefire in rebel held areas during the Tamil uprising. Jeffrey was among the first foreign visitors to Angkor Wat in Cambodia while the Khmer Rouge still roamed the countryside.
They wrote to us last week from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, about the impact the Kauai Writers Conference had on their careers:
“Our participation in the 2016 Kauai Writers Festival was informative, exciting, eye-opening, and hugely fun. The format of large audience presentations by experts (with ample time for questions and answers) dovetailed nicely with smaller more focused discussions and the opportunity to meet one-on-one in comfortable but highly professional pitch sessions with literary agents of our choosing. The Festival organizers were approachable, engaging and welcomed our comments. We continue to communicate with writers and presenters we met at the Festival.
In addition to the informative sessions, we also gained much from Larry Barber’s screenwriting short course – so much in fact that Oyuna (in addition to everything else) is currently writing a television drama about Mongolia’s 1990 democracy revolution and (Get this!) teaching screenwriting classes. Meanwhile, Jeff and a colleague here are writing a screenplay as well.
Had we not already committed to other projects here in Mongolia we certainly would have returned this year and are determined to attend the next Kauai Writers Conference!
Very best wishes to all! You’re gonna love it!!!”