Land Where I Flee is a terrific read, says Aashnaa Seth.

Prajwal-Parajuly-Land-Where-I-FleeA woman osctracised for marrying beneath her caste, a closeted homosexual, a frustrated Oxford graduate taking care of her father-in-law, a fallen writer, a formidable grandmother, a eunuch servant and a white American. Welcome to Prajwal Parajuly’s debut novel Land Where I Flee. Think of it as a Jane Austen novel set in modern day Sikkim, except the characters are the cattiest fictional characters you have come across.

Prajwal Parajuly is a very talented writer. This was obvious from his collection of short stories, The Gurkha’s Daughter. In eight succinct stories, Prajwal gave us an insight into the world of Nepalis in India, Nepal and Bhutan. The book was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, became a bestseller and was received with critical acclaim. While some stories in The Gurkha’s Daughter like The Cleft and the title story are superior to others, the book was still an accomplished debut and deserved its success.

prajwalS312013 has not been a very good year for Indian fiction abroad.  However, it can safely be said that Prajwal Parajuly’s The Gurkha’s Daughter: Stories was one Indian book that bucked the dismal trend. This beautiful collection of short stories created international literary splash even before it was released. Fantastic reviews and sales in Ireland, the UK, the UAE and South Africa soon followed. The book was a Number One bestseller in India from the day it was released. Also, Prajwal was the only Indian/Asian writer on the shortlist of this year’s Dylan Thomas Prize for Literature.

Half Nepalese, half Indian, Parajuly was raised in Sikkim. He joined Oxford in 2010. He worked as a Village Voice ad executive and was doing a masters in creative writing at Oxford when, at 26, he became the youngest writer to secure an international two-book deal from Quercus. The Gurkha’s Daughter was published in late 2012.

One year later, his second book, Land Where I Flee, a novel, will be released in India.

According to his publisher, Prajwal divides his time between New York and Oxford, England, but disappears to Gangtok, his hometown in the Indian Himalayas, at every opportunity. Kitaab caught him over email for a little chat on his writing journey so far.

Your debut collection of short stories, The Gurkha’s Daughter, was internationally acclaimed. Did you feel any pressure in writing your second book (Land Where I Flee) as expectations would be naturally high after your first book?

Thankfully, I had already completed the novel – or a draft of it – before The Gurkha’s Daughter was released. I am glad a big chunk of the work on Land Where I Flee was done prior to the publication of The Gurkha’s Daughter because there was entirely too much happening when The Gurkha’s Daughter came out. I agreed to almost all interview requests because I had the time. I was able to accept invitations to literature festivals because I had the time. I consented to readings because I had the time. I probably wouldn’t have committed to half the events I was invited to had Land Where I Flee not been as close to complete as it was. Do I feel any pressure? Not any more or less than when I did when The Gurkha’s Daughter came out. I understand there will be comparisons, but that’s okay.

Gurkha's daughterSeven young writers have been named on shortlist for £30,000 literary prize in honour of the legendary Welsh poet and India’s Prajwal Parajuly with his The Gurkha’s Daughter is the only Asian writer on the list.

The other shortlisted writers, also all with debut works, hail from, Africa, the USA and England.

The winner, who gets a £30,000 cheque and a limited edition bronze cast of Dylan Thomas will be announced at an awards ceremony in Swansea in November.

Gurkha's daughterStories about Nepalis that are short on description but rich in undercurrents, says Radhika Oberoi in The Hindu.

The prose is taut and sentences deploy a simple syntax. While it is tempting to describe The Gurkha’s Daughter as a collection of eight short stories so neat and precise that each story has a map to demarcate the geography of the narrative, it is also easy to be deceived by the simplicity.

Asian literature is rising fast on the international publishing scene. Anticipating this burgeoning demand, Kelly Falconer – former literary editor of the Asia Literary Review – founded the Asia Literary Agency earlier this year. Heading up the nascent group, which represents luminaries in the field throughout Asia, Falconer is constantly keeping tabs on the continent’s hottest writers.

According to her, the five Asian writers to watch are: British-Indian Bidisha, Ichi Batacan who is a Filipino writer in Singapore, Kim Young-ha of Korea, Mai Jia of China and Prajwal Parajuly of Sikkim.