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Ross Adkin joins Kitaab as Editor-at-Large, Nepal

Ross AdkinKitaab is delighted to announce that Ross Adkin has joined the Team Kitaab as Editor-at-Large, Nepal.

Ross Adkin (@ross_adkin) grew up in the north of Scotland and studied South Asian history and languages at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and Cambridge. He works as a freelance journalist in Kathmandu.

“Ross is a welcome addition to our network of editors who care about writing in Asia,” said Zafar Anjum, Kitaab’s Editor-in-Chief. “He will keep our readers updated with the latest news and views on Nepal’s writing scene.”

“Ross is part of a growing team of Kitaab’s editors,” he said. “We already have editors-at-large for Pakistan and Myanmar, and we are looking to appoint more editors from other Asian countries such as Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, etc. We want to have an editor for each Asian country.”



Review: The Sacrament of the Goddess and Jaya Nepal!

Elen Turner reviews Joe Niemczura’s The Sacrament of the Goddess (Austin: Plain View Press, 2014. 263 pp.) and Martin David Hughes’ Jaya Nepal! (Asheville: Simi Books, 2014. 335 pp.)

sacramentNepal is a country about which there is an extremely warped image in the minds of outsiders. The stereotypes do not need repeating, because anyone who has not been to Nepal but has given the country even a cursory thought, knows what they are. There is also very little literature available outside of South Asia that engages with the country in any meaningful way—Canadian-Nepali Manjushree Thapa’s fiction and non-fiction being notable exceptions. Therefore, it is refreshing and promising when non-Nepalis with an extensive knowledge of the country turn to literature to record their experiences.

Joe Niemczura’s The Sacrament of the Goddess and Martin David Hughes’ Jaya Nepal! are two fictionalized accounts of American aid workers’ experiences in Nepal, published by small North American presses. They both have at their heart naïve young men with the best of intentions, who find love and friendship in Nepal. Both Niemczura’s protagonist Matt and Hughes’ protagonist Ben end up working in Nepali hospitals—Matt in the small town of Beni (the site of a large battle between Maoists and the Nepali army in 2004) in the Annapurna region, and Ben in an improbably-named settlement on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Pepsicola Townplanning. Both men have experienced love and heartbreak, the underlying reason for their being in Nepal. Continue reading

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Nepal: From club to the crowd

The Nepal Literature Festival has come a long way from its humble beginnings, thanks to its organisers continuing to believe in their dream: The Kathmandu Post

In 2007, the Fine Print Book Club set up a small office in Baluwatar, where they conducted monthly interactive sessions for people who were into reading. Occasional interactions would be held on different subjects and book-lovers came together in small groups to talk about their book fetishes.

For Ajit Baral and Niraj Bhari, the brains behind the reading club, the goal lay farther than just running a book club. As publishers, they had one objective: to promote reading culture in Nepal. Continue reading

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Nepal: Ncell Literature Fest from Sept 19

tishani-doshiThe fourth iteration of the Ncell Literature Festival is going to be held from September 19 to 22 on the premise of the Nepal Academy Hall in Kamaladi, Kathmandu.

Organised by the Bookworm Foundation, the festival is getting popular among literature lovers and those who seek to involve in the intellectual debate on literature and other contemporary social and political issues. Continue reading

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“It’s the writer’s job to provoke, stimulate— perhaps even titillate”: Samrat Upadhyay

In this interview with Kitaab’s fiction editor Oindrila Mukherjee, Samrat Upadhyay, a fiction writer of Nepali origin, discusses his journey in the world of fiction.

SamratupadhyayHis first book, the short story collection Arresting God in Kathmandu (Houghton Mifflin, 2001) has been translated into French and Greek and was the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award as well as a pick for the 2001 Barnes & Noble Discover Great Writers Program. Upadhyay’s stories have been read live on National Public Radio and published widely as well as in SCRIBNER’S BEST OF THE WRITING WORKSHOPS and BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 1999. Upadhyay’s novel The Guru of Love (Houghton Mifflin, 2003) was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year 2003, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2003, and a BookSense 76 collection. The novel was also a finalist for the 2004 Kiriyama Prize, and has been translated into several European languages. Upadhyay’s story collection, The Royal Ghosts (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), won the 2007 Asian American Literary Award, the Society of Midland Authors Book Award, and was declared a Best of Fiction in 2006 by the Washington Post. The book was also a finalist for the Frank O’Connor Int’l Short Story Award from Ireland and for the Ohioana Book Award.

His second novel Buddha’s Orphans (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) has been called a novel of “ambition and heft” by The New York Times and “beautifully told” by Publishers Weekly, which gave it a starred review. The novel has been translated into German and Czech. It was also longlisted for the DSC Prize in India. The City Son, Upadhyay’s fifth book and third novel, was published last month by Soho Press.

He is the Martha C. Kraft Professor of Humanities at Indiana University.

Are you really the first Nepali writer writing in English to be published in the West as Wikipedia says? And if so, why? What was happening in NEW before you? Continue reading

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Nepal: Literature in a cup

In Nepal, and especially Kathmandu, coffeehouses are too expensive to foster intellectual creativity: Kantipur.com

Today’s coffeehouses in Nepal are nothing like the ones of old in England, or even the old teahouses of Kathmandu that were literary hotspots. They are commercial, expensive and don’t foster an intellectual spirit.

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Review: The End of the World by Sushma Joshi

Elen Turner reviews The End of the World by Sushma Joshi (Kathmandu: Sansar Books, 2009. 155 pp.) for Kitaab

Sushma_eowwebThe experience of the way this book reached me was, unfortunately, emblematic of the present state of literary circulation in Nepal. I knew that the review copy had been sent to Kathmandu from Singapore, so I waited and waited. And waited. It never arrived. It still may, but I am not hopeful. This was not my first or last experience of things going missing in the mail. The ‘postal system’ of Nepal is not to be trusted, to put it mildly. How, then, can Nepali writers hope to be reviewed internationally and gain recognition outside Nepal, unless they have efficient and forceful promotion and distribution channels based outside the country? English-language writers from Nepal already face a rather awkward predicament, writing in a language that the majority of Nepalis do not read, and yet not visible internationally in the same way that neighbouring Indian, Pakistani or, increasingly, Bangladeshi writers in English are. Fortunately, the author arranged for the book to be delivered to me in this instance. This ad-hoc means of distribution and promotion should not be necessary, although those of us involved in publishing in this country know that it is.

This rather dire state of affairs is not reflective of what is actually taking place in English-language writing in Nepal, however. Sushma Joshi’s The End of the World is a readable collection of short stories from an author who comes across as both worldy and intimately connected to the local Nepali milieu that she recreates. She is as comfortable recreating the thoughts and actions of a teenage girl as she is of a middle-aged man, which lends variety to the stories within the collection. Continue reading

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Nepal: Conversations at literature festival

The third day of the 2013 edition of the annual Ncell Nepal Literature Festival was greeted with much enthusiasm by literature lovers in the Capital. The event on Sunday began with a lively session featuring reputed actors Madan Krishna Shrestha and Hari Bansha Acharya in conversation with senior journalist Vijay Kumar Pandey.

The Maha Jodi, who have been working together for close to 34 years now, talked about the experiences they’ve shared over the years to the delight of a huge audience that had gathered at the venue at the Nepal Academy to hear their favourite actors—who’re known as much for their remarkable comic timing and acting prowess as for their clever witticisms—speak. The session was one of the most widely attended, and many audience members could be seen standing throughout the duration of the conversation which lasted for more than one hour.

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Literature fest kicks off in Nepal

The culture of reading and writing is changing. Writers do not want to remain just the name behind the words they write, they want to get in touch with their readers. The readers also take this as an opportunity to hear their writers talk about the books and answer their queries. All these readers, writers and the intellectuals were at Kamaladi gathered under the one roof to take part in the third edition of Ncell Literature Festival organised by Bookworm Foundation sponsored by Ncell.

The opening ceremony of the festival took place on October 25 at the Nepal Academy. Welcoming the audience, artistes from Bhaktapur performed the traditional Dhime music giving a perfect start to the programme.

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A ‘Dashain’ for literature lovers

On Friday afternoon, Ashish Sigdel sat on the lawn at the backyard of Nepal Academy, waiting for the session “The Art of the Short Story” to begin. A 20-year-old law student, Sigdel has been attending the Ncell Literature Festival every year since it began in 2011. He finds little difference between art and jurisprudence. “In both law and literature, you play with words and learn to express better,” he said.

His friends, who joined him at the festival for the first time, agree. They find the festival to be a Dashain for literature lovers. What they also appreciate is its contribution to help bridge the gap between the old and the new generations.

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