An epic and moving historical novel about a nomadic girl’s search for home.
Born in the late 1930s on the Central Asian steppe, Naja is the daughter of a clan chieftain of the Tushan nomads, proud descendants of Genghis Khan. When her fiercely independent father, U’lan, hears of Stalin’s plan to bring the Tushan under state control and make them settle permanently in collective farms, he pledges to join forces with the invading German army. It is a pledge of honor that will take her father to the hell of Stalingrad and change Naja’s life forever by eventually bringing her, at the age of nine, to ruined postwar Cologne.
From there she must learn to adapt to a strange new culture, and to the strange family that has taken her in. But as Naja gradually grows more comfortable in this alien world, the memories of her young life on the steppe call out to her. She begins a difficult search for her past—and the past of her people—with only the word kuraj (Tushan for tumbleweed) as her talisman and guide.