Monthly magazines take a while to assemble an issue, but National Geographic‘s stunning May issue — about China and Tibet — is more than a timely stroke of luck. A peek at the bylines reveals some very well-known writers, including novelist Amy Tan and River Town author Peter Hessler, who contributes two stories. What does this mean? One explanation is that a forward-thinking editor reacted to increased attention to the area a few months ago and tapped these reliable writers; if they’re already working on books about China, they must have material that could be speedily repurposed into an article.
The May issue also includes two reprints that offer brilliant perspectives from decades past: one from pre-Communist China in 1971 and a glimpse at a young Dalai Lama from 1955. But our favorite piece in the issue was Lewis M. Simmons’ must-read about the Tibetan-Chinese duality of life in Tibet. Kudos to National Geographic for putting together a sharp issue, right on the news.