For the next two months (July and August, 2014) I will be working on a popular ethnography on the Lisu, a group of about 1.5 million people, most of whom live in remote highland areas of Southeast Asia. I first wrote this book the late 1990s, but my then-publisher went out of business before it saw print. “Close to the Water and Far From the Ruler” will now be published by University Press of Colorado in 2015/16.
I have some updating to do, and will be visiting China, Thailand, Burma. Like the world in general, the world of the Lisu has seen a lot of change in the past 15 years. Then there’s the author: the (relatively) young and bold 40-something has also moved on to a different life and career, slightly more sedentary. Note to self: must get chops up!
But how could I not take up this second chance to go back and rewrite my first book? The opportunity to complete long-marinating unfinished business, and to keep a promise to bring the story of these unusually resilient and independent-minded people to a broader audience, is a great surprise and an even greater gift.