Nomad Girl

My Adventures with Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, John Lee Hooker, the Dalai Lama and more

Extracts from Nomad Girl review by Paul Zollo, editor of American Songwriter magazine

cover - Nomad Girl
Nomad Girl
"A revelatory, poignant and often haunting expedition, both physical and spiritual, with Niema Ash, - AKA Nomad Girl - from Montreal to Morocco to Tibet to America and beyond; along the way she meets some guys who wrote songs and became, gradually, famous and beloved. These include Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, and her chapters on each are remarkable little movies all their own. She's such a fine, empathetic and lucid writer that there are scenes from these chapters - and from others - that remain imprinted in my mind, as if I witnessed them myself. That is the essence of great writing.

Admittedly, it was the chapters on Leonard and Dylan which first brought me to this book. Both paint portraits of each man which are exceptional. But there is much more than these encounters that is every bit as vividly sensual. These include a memorable meeting with the Dalai Lama in Toronto.

Neima with Irving Layton and Leonard Cohen
Niema with Irving
Layton and Leonard Cohen

"He took both my hands in his, enfolding them very carefully, as though he was being given something precious, and repeated my name with such affection as if meeting me was a great privilege. I hardly knew what I was saying, I could only feel the warmth of his hands holding mine and could sense that some sort of new dimension, a new capacity, a new joy had entered my life." –

There's an exultant, hilarious, erotic and delightfully cinematic scene with Niema, Leonard, and his friend, the poet Irving Layton. Because Leonard saw the world as a poet, life, in many ways, became a poem. A poem that, like Leonard, is both serious and funny and also spiritual, sexual and all the things he was. And she was the girl in the poem.

With Dylan she shows scenes rarely seen, except by those who were there... There's much more on Dylan, as they became close friends and more... Once she gave him a serious massage during which something unlocked in him, and suddenly language flowed and he was plugged into the source.

But the adventure that remains the most indelible is the sky burial she witnessed high on a mountaintop in Tibet. A holy ritual that few foreigners have ever been allowed to witness... Any description of this would be fascinating, but Niema's evocative prose brings us to the moment with stunning poetic clarity... For that chapter alone I would cherish this book.

Written with compassion, humor, warmth and love, in vivid prose, this is a book to savour."

"Niema is one of the most interesting people I've ever met".

Jack Canfield, author of The Chicken Soup For The Soul books

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