An Unexpected History in Mongolia: A Book by Nily Naiman

Synopsis of MONGOLIA, by Nily Naiman 
 
Lana, the focus of this family saga, is the youngest of three daughters. Her mother passes on to them a tradition from her childhood: If a girl stands in a field of butterflies and waits patiently, the number that land on her will foretell how many husbands she will have. 
 
A talented athlete, Lana becomes a champion runner, representing her country in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. In the years following, Lana continues her training. Shortly before she is scheduled to leave with her teammates for the Munich Olympics in 1972, her mother falls ill with incurable cancer. For the first time, her mother, Sara, reveals to Lana what happened to her during World War II. 
 
When the Nazis came to Sara's village in Russia, the family fled to the Russian-Mongolian border. There she met the love of her life, a young Mongolian man, who took her to his village across the border. She stayed with him and bore him a son. He died a tragic death, and in her grief and confusion, not even knowing the war had ended, Sara left her child with his grandparents, and crossed back into Russia to look for her family. She wandered through Europe, eventually coming to Cyprus. There she met the man who was to be her second husband and Lana's father, and they settled in Israel. 
 
Now her last wish is that Lana will accompany her to Mongolia, so that she can find the child whom she left behind 27 years before, and beg his forgiveness. Lana gives up her participation in the Olympics to stay with her mother and help her fulfill her mission. In Mongolia Lana forms a strong bond with her half-brother Molian, and decides to stay in that unique country. Molian will be her rock of support in her time of greatest need. 
 
The story tells of the joys and tragedies of Lana's relationships with her three husbands and eight children. Sami, who was her trainer and mentor during the Olympics, is a Muslim Arab brought up in Israel among all the frustrations of a people whose ancient land is now dominated by what they see as an alien culture. He joins her in Mongolia soon after her arrival there, and they marry. Sami dies in a tragic accident on the very day that Lana bears him a daughter, Bayar. 
 
Liu Young is an Olympic gymnast raised under the demands and restrictions of the Maoist regime in China. He has thought of Lana ever since they met during athletic competitions years before in Italy. When he hears of the death of her husband he travels to Mongolia to comfort her. With Molian's encouragement Liu Young remains there. Eventually he becomes Lana's second husband. He gladly adopts Bayar as his own, and together he and Lana will have seven more children. Liu Young will die suddenly, of natural causes. 
 
Lana returns to her home country to visit her sister after so many years away. There she reunites with Micha'el, who was her dearest friend when they were children and who is now a high ranking army officer. He will join Lana in Mongolia.
No votes yet
Archived Comments