Practice Dying

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More About This Title Practice Dying


On the cusp of turning 30, Jamila has achieved the hard-earned ability to live her life as an I, not a we. But this elusive achievement is thrown off when she falls in love with Salam, an Indian pastry chef and writer, temporarily in New York City. Salam is the first person besides her twin, David, with whom she longs to be paired. Their romance is passionate but doomed, and Jamila’s suicide attempt as the affair breaks apart calls David back to New York to ensure his sister's safety. David is going through his own personal and spiritual crisis while he helps Jamila. At the age of eight, David started down a path apart from anyone else he knew, the path of a devoted Buddhist, and eventually takes the vows of a bodhisattva. He miraculously gains access to the mentorship of the 14th Dalai Lama. In his late 20s, he wanders around the Himalayan plateau of Sichuan Province, Tibet, ignoring the instructions of his lifelong mentor to enter a monastery there. Instead, he obsessively follows a self-immolation survivor who he longs to connect with as desperately as his sister wishes to connect with Salam. The twins’ reunion in New York coincides with a devastating trend of self-immolations in Tibet and the Dalai Lama’s own conviction that he must alter Tibetan Buddhist tradition in an unthinkable way if the culture is to survive at all.


Rachel Stolzman Gullo is the author of The Sign for Drowning. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in various publications. Practice Dying was a semi-finalist for Best Novel in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Literary Competition, received a fellowship from Summer Literary Seminars, and was a finalist for the Inkubate Literary Blockbuster Challenge.