Interview with Ms. Erkhembayar Erica Baltsukh, the author of bestselling books in Mongolia

4:23 PM

Interview with Ms. Erkhembayar Erica Baltsukh, the author of bestselling books in Mongolia

We ventured into the city centre where there is a tall white building with a giant digital screen, in order to interview Erkhembayar Baltsukh, the Director of the International and Corporate Relations Department at Trade Development Bank of Mongolia.

While she is well accomplished in the banking field and earned her Masters Degree in Economics at Stockholm University in 2002, she is also a praised author in Mongolia who just recently published her 3rd best selling book "Palm Lines"

She describes her work as "My novels are pretty ordinary with simple words and plot, which are almost based on real life; perhaps it's because I grew up reading realistic novels. It seems to deeply connect with a lot of my readers because people frequently comment on how relatable my books are to their lives."

She further went on to say "I've always been inspired by Ch.Lodoidamba's writing because of his simplicity of words that described a deeper level of life's philosophy in his novels. In fact, I always reread his book "Tungalga Tamir" from time to time."
"Palm Lines", as summarized by its front cover, is a book that describes how our lives are not only governed by fate, but also through our noble actions and deeds. It's not necessarily either or the other, but a combination of both destiny and our good deeds, karma if you will.
"Your destiny and path that was laid before you by your ancestors diverges in many ways and whether you follow their path or create your own, is up to you. Sometimes we can make our own destiny if we choose." Karma Lama – Palm Lines, page 383.
The 1990s was one of the most interesting periods to grow up in Mongolia, because it is what we call "the generation of change", and I've always had a fascination in reading about other people's lives during those times.

And as a reader, Erkhembayar's book "Palm Lines" felt like it vividly painted the lives of people during the 1990s. It seems to strike a similar chord with a lot of her fans because they've all expressed similar sentiments on how the book stirred old feelings of youthful love and romanticism.
When asked why specifically the 1990s? Erkhembayar answered "Because it was a sudden political shift that rattled everyday lives of ordinary people as if a beehive was disturbed. There wasn't a single person who was not affected by the change, and I believe perhaps drastic sudden changes reveal the true qualities of someone's character. In my book, I tried to show how important perseverance, tenacity, and faith are when such dramatic events occur in our lives.
I was in fact a young girl in my teens during that time. Everyone around me was struggling with the political transition from the communist regime to democracy and trying to get by, so while writing my book about my younger days, my emotions kept stirring because everything came flooding back and even talking about is very emotional"

“We seem to be losing the kindness that we used to learn from our parents.”

I totally agree! As Erica (her short name) describes “People who’ve lived through a political shift developed a sense of patience and perseverance” and it is in fact those people who are building the future of Mongolia today. The novel’s main hero Enkhbat seeks asylum in Sweden to make a better life for himself. Through the character’s life in Western Europe, the story draws parallels of life towards the readers.
Life of refugees, especially ones in rich and developed countries like Sweden, isn’t that well understood nor known. However, Erica herself having lived in Sweden as a translator for refugees, may be the reason why her novels are so successful at illustrating the life of a refugee.
“The generation of individuals who have lived through two different societies have become more patient in life”
I think this part of the book is perhaps a hidden gem as it compares the life in an unstable government of Mongolia vs one in a rich Western country.
One of the characters that drew my interest was Karma Lama. He lives as an immigrant in Sweden and reads Enkhat’s palms to reveal his destiny.
However, what’s even more fascinating is that the author of book said “The character of Karma Lama is actually inspired by a real person. His anti-Chinese sentiments eventually led him to immigrating to Sweden from Tibet. I am only now understanding that his life devotion to meditation and the religion of Buddhism served somewhat as a “School of Life” if you will. He still lives in Sweden and shares his philosophy of Buddhism with others.”
Family and parents are big parts of her novel. Even though Erica's parents unfortunately passed away when she was young, she loves to talk about how they taught her everything she needs to know in life. Which is why she included the section “Growing up with your great love and wisdom of life, your beloved daughter grew up to have a great understanding of the world and life.” in beginning part of the novel.
She says we seem to be losing the kindness that we used to learn from our parents. When we leave this world, our legacies remain. If we caused a lot of sorrow in others while alive, our spirit cannot be at peace by the time we leave this world. If we hold this grudge we may have to pay for it in our afterlife.
This idea was perfectly illustrated by the main character, Dorj, whose greed led him to achieve great heights and materialistic possessions, but at the end of all things he was only left with contempt for life and deeply held grudges.
At the end of the novel, even though Dorj asked for forgiveness, his sins had already had consequences in the life and others.

Writing is Erkhembayar’s Nobles Oblige for Mongolian Society 

A lot of readers ask the veteran banker and economist on how she is able to make to write and why she decided to write in the first place, but still, I couldn't help but ask the same questions other people had.
She replied "It's all about time management. Whenever there is something to be done, I don't waste time putting it off. I just do it right away, and it seems that's the most productive way to go about things.
Writing is my passion. I want to bring people the joy of reading genuine qualities of kindness and goodness in the world, and all of my books in fact delve into those topics specifically.
Perhaps that is my calling; to provide people who lack inspiration in life some courage and hope to look towards the brighter side.
Calculating the opportunity cost of writing books from a banker's perspective, it's not that profitable, but my happiness comes from knowing that people enjoy my writing and spreading the joy of reading books."
She also mentions that nothing is as exciting as greeting fans who come to her events to have their books signed. Perhaps that's the epitome of joy that authors get from writing books.
"Your destiny and future is written in the palm of your hands; past, present, and future sins and virtues are all a part of it.”

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