I’m interviewing Pico Iyer tomorrow about his new book on the Dalai Lama. One problem: I basically know squat about Tibet, especially the circumstances surrounding the events that led to the DL’s exile in 1959. Can anyone point me to — or better, send me — something I can read tonight that will give me enough background so I can fake it.

Or, even betterer: Anyone got any suggestions for questions I should ask?

The book is ok, though Iyer persists in the type of analysis he’s been doing for ages. He begins by saying that the West has always projected its deepest aspirations and longings onto Tibet, and that’s wrong. Then he goes and more or less repeats all the usual stereotypes about Tibet.

It’s the same trick he pulled back when he was all keen on Canada as the posterchild of postmodern globalisation. He’d start by repeating McLuhan’s line about everyone always treating Canada as some tabula rasa of the modern identity and say, that’s wrong; then he would proceed to do so.

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