NWE, IWE, same difference


If Indian Writing in English (IWE) is a genre, then arguably, Nepali Writing in English (NWE) is one too, albeit with far fewer exponents.

Today being Buddha Purnima, it seems appropriate to write about one of the finest writers from the subcontinent, the Nepali-American author, Samrat Upadhyay. His most recent novel, published in India by Rupa, is Buddha's Orphans.

Buddha’s Orphans is a novel permeated with the sense of how we are irreparably connected to the mothers who birthed us and of the way events of the past, even those we are ignorant of, inevitably haunt the present. But most of all it is an engrossing, unconventional love story and a seductive, transporting read.


Upadhyay directs the creative writing programe at Indiana University, and is the author of  The Guru of Love. Which, as it happened, was the first of his novels that I read, provocative title notwithstanding- and which floored me in its simplicity and complexity... It was a New York Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year. 

But that was a while ago. Other novels by Upadhayay on the SwB site include The Royal Ghost that features characters trying to reconcile their true desires with the forces at work in Nepali society. Against the backdrop of the violent Maoist insurgencies that have claimed thousands of lives, these characters struggle with their duties to their aging parents, an oppressive caste system, and the complexities of arranged marriage. In the end, they manage to find peace and connection, often where they least expect it-with the people directly in front of them. These stories brilliantly examine not only Kathmandu during a time of political crisis and cultural transformation but also the effects of that city on the individual consciousness.

Arresting God in Kathmandu is a collection of short stories, that  brilliantly explores the nature of desire and spirituality in changing society. With the assurance and unsentimental wisdom of a long-established writer, Upadhyay records the echoes of modernisation throughout love and family. Psychologically rich and astonishingly acute, Arresting God in Kathmandu introduces a potent new voice in contemporary fiction.

In our Fiction section, 

Buddha's Orphans, Rs 295, ISBN: 9788129116178
The Royal  Ghosts, Rs 250, ISBN: 9788129109156
Arresting God in Kathmandu , Rs 195, ISBN: 9788171678037

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