Posted by: koolwine | January 17, 2011

Nepal: The Royal Ghosts

The Nepalese characters in this collection of  short stories are knocked off balance by the words of others.

Country Focus: Nepal

The Royal Ghosts
Samrat Upadhyay
Houghton Mifflin, 2006.  207 pgs.

Acclaim: Upadhyay won the Whiting Award for Arresting God in Kathmandu, and his book The Guru of Love was a finalist for the Kiriyama Prize

We’re all at the mercy of the words of others, even though (or maybe especially when) the thoughts they express may be unkind, thoughtless, untrue, prejudiced or manipulative.  In each of The Royal Ghosts‘ nine rich but unadorned short stories, Samrat Upadhyay’s protagonists become disconcerted by what another character has said to them or by what they fear others will think of them.  The Royal Ghosts charts a progression: the first few stories feature characters who allow their lives to be constrained by other people, and the last several portray characters who break free from societal limitations to do what they feel is right.  In the final title story “The Royal Ghosts”, a character proclaims the collection’s theme: “You can’t live your life always listening to what others say.”


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