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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Raised in Nepal but now an American resident, Samrat Upadhyay brings the exotic yet modern world of his homeland alive in this absorbing short-story collection. Billed as the first Nepalese author writing in English to be published in the West, Upadhyay's prose is clear and understated, perfectly suited to his affecting stories. His themes focus on the ordinary events of modern life, eloquently evoking universal emotions: the humiliation of losing a job, the pain of seeing a child throw his life away with alcohol, the oppressive grief of losing a spouse, the aching pressure of sexual desire. But what makes these stories unusual is how this modern sensibility plays out in a truly Eastern world. The juxtaposition of these two cultures is both novel and intriguing.
Perhaps the most fascinating features of Upadhyay's stories, however, are the pervasive themes of uncertainty and confusion. The stories are unified by an undeniable sense that the world is an unpredictable place, and that relationships are often unsafe and unreliable. And how astute an observation this has proved to be, given the grisly murders of the Nepalese royal family in the summer of 2001!
Upadhyay's characters, each of them unique, are sympathetic precisely because they are so easily understood. They feel real and familiar, despite the unfamiliar names and customs. For fans of Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize-winning short-story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, Samrat Upadhyay's debut should come as a welcome new find. (Fall 2001 Selection)