Writing of Samrat Upadhyay's debut story collection, critics raved: «like a Buddhist Chekhov . . . speak[s] to common truths . . . startlingly good" (San Francisco Chronicle) and «subtle and spiritually complex" (New York Times). Upadhyay's first novel showcases his finest writing and his signature themes. The Guru of Love is a moving and important story important for what it illuminates about the human need to love as well as lust, and for the light it shines on the political situation in Nepal and elsewhere.
Ramchandra is a math teacher earning a low wage and living in a small apartment with his wife and two children. Moonlighting as a tutor, he engages in an illicit affair with one of his tutees, Malati, a beautiful, impoverished young woman who is also a new mother. She provides for him what his wife, who comes from a privileged background, does not: desire, mystery, and a simpler life. Complicating matters are various political concerns and a small city bursting with the conflicts of modernization, a static government, and a changing population. Just as the city must contain its growing needs, so must Ramchandra learn to accommodate both tradition and his very modern desires.
Absolutely absorbing yet deceptively simple, this novel cements Upadhyay's emerging status as one of our most exciting new writers.
With emotional precision and narrative subtlety, The Royal Ghosts features characters trying to reconcile their true desires with the forces at work in Nepali society. Against the backdrop of the violent Maoist insurgencies that have claimed thousands of lives, these characters struggle with their duties to their aging parents, an oppressive caste system, and the complexities of arranged marriage. In the end, they manage to find peace and connection, often where they least expect it with the people directly in front of them. These stories brilliantly examine not only Kathmandu during a time of political crisis and cultural transformation but also the effects of that city on the individual consciousness.
Samrat Upadhyay is the author of Arresting God in Kathmandu, which earned him a Whiting Award, and The Guru of Love, which was a New York Times Notable Book, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, and a finalist for the Kiriyama Prize. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.
This book will also appeal to readers intersted in the themes: Nepal, South Asian Literature, Nepali Society, Alienation, Democracy, Kathmandu.
Samrat Upadhyay’s new collection vibrates at the edges of intersecting cultures. Journalists in Kathmandu are targeted by the government. A Nepali man studying in America drops out of school and finds himself a part of the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. A white American woman moves to Nepal and changes her name. A Nepali man falls in love with a mysterious foreign black woman. A rich kid is caught up in his own fantasies of poverty and bank robbery. In the title story, a powerful woman, the owner of a construction company, becomes a political prisoner, and in stark and unflinching prose we see both her world and her mind radically remade.
Through the course of the stories in this collection, Upadhyay builds new modes of seeing our interconnected contemporary world. A collection of formal inventiveness, heartbreak and hope, it reaffirms Upadhyay’s position as one or our most important chroniclers of globalization and exile.