By Nancy Tannler


Little did I know of the very interesting, courageous and observant life my neighbor Elizabeth Enslin (aka Liz) led before we met here in Montavilla over ten years ago. I knew she was a mom, an intellectual, an avid gardener and writing a book. It wasn’t until I began reading her all-absorbing book, While the Gods Were Sleeping, that I could fully appreciate what a story she has to tell.

aWhileGodsSleeping_printThe book is an intimate story of her love and marriage to a man from the Brahman caste, her child born in a remote village on the plains of Nepal, the family, their traditions, the caste system and her own inner drive as a cultural anthropologist to understand the culture and participate in the changing times.

Manjushree Thapa, author of Forget Kathmandu, says it best, “This is an inspiring and challenging read for activists, rebels, and dreamers everywhere.” Enslin’s twenty-five years of intimate knowledge of family relationships and anthropological research gives her unique insight into Hindu philosophy and provides fascinating insights into the history, culture, and politics of this little-understood corner of the world. She is especially touched by the strength of the women organizing, from all castes, to better their society.

Enslin grew up in Seattle and went on to earn her PhD in cultural anthropology from Stanford University in 1990. These days, she lives in a strawbale house in the canyon country of northeastern Oregon. She raises garlic, pigs and yaks. Her website is


Ms. Enslin comes to Portland for a book reading/signing at Powell’s Books Hawthorne (3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd.) Thursday, October 9 at 7:30 pm. A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to the Rural Health and Education Service Trust (RHEST) for projects dedicated to improving women’s reproductive health in rural Nepal. See