Samrat Upadhyay, is the first Nepali author who had written and published his works in English. Currently working in US, most of his stories in this collections are on the middle-upper class life in and around Kathmandu. Most of them revolve around the changing world and changing values of the society and the families.There are no generation conflicts, but there are the difficulties of the individuals in the changing world where the find themselves alienated from the world and from their own people.
Most of the stories depicts the troubles and unhappiness in the families. The rebellion within the family , unhappy over the orthodox family values pushed on the generation. Hence, all the stories revolve around adultery, relationship outside wedlock, the new found sexual liberation and freedom, illicit affairs, and unwanted pregnancy. While these form the thread on the chain, its the resulting issues that affects the family that is in discussion here. Except one, "The Cooking Poet", rest all appears to be moving along this line.
Samrat has a knack of starting the stories with a bang. "The trouble bagan for Deepak misra when he kissed his unattractive secretary in the office ( Deepak misra's Secretary), Get him married, Rudra said, once he has a wife, he will come to his senses" ( The limping bride), "The man wih long hair appeared around the street corner, his self confident apparent even from a distance" ( The man with Long hair) etc started with enough curiosity.
The Cooking Poet, which stand out from the rest talked about a young poet with extraordinary talent, seeking blessing from the old guard, an established and well sought after poet during his early days of career. Realising the huge potential bordering jealousy, the old man promote the talent to the larger world, only to realise his involvement in the revolutionary movements. In "The Limping Bride" talks about a fathers dilemma with his drunkard son. He fights his own hidden desires ( after the death of his wife) resurface with the arrival of the bride, along with his efforts to get his son accept the girl as his life partner. The room Next door talk about a families hide the illicit pregnancy of their college going daughter and to save their image in the society get her married to a worker in their house. Deepak Misra's Secretary, is a tale of a Nepali businessman's troubled marriage with an American wife. 'This world' looks at the new generation, US educated Nepali youths with their life and multiple affairs and
Arresting God in Kathmandu is a catchy title; however there are no stories that carry this name. The only reason I could attribute for this header ( I dont see any other reference to it elsewhere), is the omnipresence of Gods in the life of Nepal with its numerous temples ( the famous Pasupathinath Temple including) in and around Kathmandu. God, is an eternal presence in the life and so is in the stories.
Having said that, there are no stories that worth a second read in this series. Nor am I going to start my verbose on this book to my friends and insist they read this. While it is interesting and good to see writings emerge from Nepal, this leaves me rather disappointed for its lack of style, substance and language. Apart from few superfluous family story of sexual, matrimonial troubles, it does not reflect the larger issues of Nepali society. A mediocre effort.---------------------------------------------------
Arresting God in Kathmandu ( 2001 )
Rupa & Co