The novel centres on a colourful group of refugee Tibetans. One of the group's members, the charismatic (and slightly dubious) Rabbi Chod, recognises himself as the reincarnation of Moses, and various friends as reincarnations of key Biblical ...
figures. Despite condemnation from both the mainstream Jewish and Tibetan communities, he declares his followers the true 'lost tribe of Israel', and defiantly opens up a synagogue in a pet shop. The action is seen through the eyes of the narrator, Monlam, who is born into a family where suppression and dysfunction are common currency. Both of his parents are Tibetan Jews, followers of Rabbi Chod. His father owns a cafe called 'Hush Hush', so called because within the cafe, all forms of noise are forbidden. Any customer who speaks is instantly banned and a Polaroid photo of them is pinned to a cork board in case they should dare to return. Monlam himself lives an extraordinary life; as each day goes by, he makes his way not into the future, but the past. He falls asleep each night only to wake up the day before. In this way, as he grows up his parents get younger. By the end of the book his parents are children - too young to manage by themselves - and the adult Monlam has to look after them. In this way he witnesses his own family history, quite literally living backwards into their lives.