This is an anthology of stories showing energy, change and new beginnings. This is what marks the transition of Nepal from the feudal to democratic, from the old to new, from conflict to peace. A new Nepal! This is what is the hallmark of the literary writings of Nepal and here we have effable and humorous stories from Sushma Joshi, who is a Nepali writer and filmmaker and from Ajit Baral, who is writer based in Kathmandu. Sushma Joshi says that as one poet has noticed, Nepal has seen a chorus of ?new Nepal? events, everything from art to sculpture to poetry and that the hype around the political transition has been enormous, but the dividends not proportionate to the rhetoric. She is correct in saying what she does because living in the new Nepal she knows that things are not always as new as we would imagine them to be.
Here is a collection of stories which reverberates with the concerns of the last decade in Nepali history and range from the diaspora to political turmoil and from spirituality to alienation, offering a glimpse of the Nepali soul. In the first story entitled ?The Face of Carolynn Flint?, the writer Prawin Adhikari looks at the relationship between a blas? young Nepali writer and a real estate agent in the Bay Area with a penchant for cosmetic surgery. The real estate agent, Carolynn, wanted to be liked by boys when in high school but as she was not as pretty as some of her friends were, she got left behind while her friends enjoyed. She once come across an advertisement in the Bohemian about a cosmetic surgeon whom she visits to get a nose-job done once, then liposuction under her cheekbones and thus keeps changing her looks every now and then. She marries once but it does not work out, so she marries the second time to one who, she says, was ?an asshole?He talked loudly and made me feel like I was the centre of his world.? So she decides that ?no more marriage for me.
In the story ?Heroes and Onions?, the writer and professor Sanjeev Uprety explores the absurdity of politics through the layers of a giant onion, where one of the two leaders decides that ?perhaps we should peel off the layers of this mountainous onion and peer into what lies inside. Perhaps there is some central clue, some grand knowledge hidden under the layers of this monumental onion; a knowledge that will resolve all the problems of what we are facing together as a nation.?
In all, besides the outer world of political change, the inner world of psychological change remains the other familiar terrain in these short stories. Whether emerging or famous, realist or surrealist, whether their English stems from living in an English-speaking country or through reading books at the British Council Library, the writers of this collection have managed to reflect the Nepali experience through their own particular lenses. And this diversity is what makes this anthology timely, for not only is Nepal is a country with multiple voices but also one that ?through the clamour makes an edgy sense?, say Sushma Joshi, as if summing up the collection.
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