Review

Arresting God in Kathmandu

by Samrat Upadhyay



There has never before been a Nepali author published in the West.
ARRESTING GOD IN KATHMANDU ends that drought and gives a fresh and
truly bright voice to family-driven angst and dysfunction. Since
topics like arranged marriages aren't all that common in your
everyday American short stories, Samrat Upadhyay has the
opportunity here to mine caverns of human existence that will be
news to us.

   

God is a big presence in a place like Kathmandu. Prayer is a very
public thing, and privacy is hard to come by. Your family is what
defines you --- their status in the world and your status within
it. "I don't think all that much. What's there to think about? Life
is what God gives us." In "The Good Shopkeeper," Upadhyay's Pramod
does not want to settle for what God has given him, and that seems
to be in complete conflict with the laissez-faire,
"what-does-it-matter-it's-predestined" attitude his happily-servile
wife has adopted. In "Deepak Misra's Secretary," it is only when
someone has left his side that Misra finds the appropriate emotions
for their relationship, unable to accept what has happened between
them and wishing to return to a normalcy from which he had once
run. Love and desire are dangerous --- they can get you branded as
criminal, contribute to growing rifts in your family security,
drive you mad, run counter to your destiny and, thus, fortune.
Kathmandu, according to Upadhyay, suffers from so much subversive
and subjugated emotion that it might be as dangerous to love freely
there as it would be to live on the streets of any rousing urban
American metropolis.

       

The translation is excellent and contributes to our being moved by
the sharp and exacting words the author uses to give voice to the
hidden and unspeakable desires and dreams of his characters. Samrat
Upadhyay has made literary history in two ways: besides his general
introduction of Western readers to Nepal, he also introduces to us
a whole new genre of family dysfunction. In fact, maybe he should
come here and get a job writing for "The Sopranos." An auspicious
debut that screams for him to take on the novel as his next
project.




Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 20, 2011

Arresting God in Kathmandu
by Samrat Upadhyay

  • Publication Date: August 2, 2001
  • Genres: Short Stories
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books
  • ISBN-10: 0618043713
  • ISBN-13: 9780618043712