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Arresting God in Kathmandu Paperback – August 2, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Love and matrimony are as complicated in modern Nepal as anywhere else, as depicted in this debut collection of stories from one of the first Nepali authors writing in English to be published in the West. In only one of the nine stories does the focus waver from the tensions inherent in a class-conscious society where most marriages are still arranged, despite the fast-forward of globalization and a younger population used to traveling abroad or at least hearing about it. Parents such as the mother in "The Room Next Door" are angry and confused when their children are reluctant to conform. This mother is shamed when her college-age daughter becomes pregnant; the girl then marries the only man who might have her an unemployed simpleton who has appeared on their doorstep. Young couples at a loss to articulate submerged desires find it difficult to communicate in times of stress. In "The Good Shopkeeper," an accountant who loses his job drifts away from his wife and into an affair with a servant girl; the dissolution of another man's marriage to an American woman gives way to an unusual rebound relationship in "Deepak Misra's Secretary." While all of the stories are set in Nepal, one, "This World," also dips into New Jersey and explores the ambivalence of a young woman deciding her future and, by extension, her identity. Those seeking the exoticism so often found in contemporary Indian fiction won't find it here there are no lush descriptions or forays into spirituality. In an assured and subtle manner, Upadhyay anchors small yet potent epiphanies in a place called Kathmandu, and quietly calls it home. (Aug. 2)Forecast: This collection sports an enticing cover and will likely do better as an original paperback than it might have as a hardcover. A seven-city author tour will give Upadhyay some U.S. exposure.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Billed as the first Nepali author writing in English to be published in the West, Upadhyay brings to readers the flavor of Nepal and its culture in this impressive collection of nine short stories. Like Ha Jin's Bridegroom, Upadhyay's stories portray the lives of simple yet psychologically complex characters and reveal much about the universal human condition in us all. Many of the pieces contain themes centered around the cultural taboos relating to the roles of men and women, love, and fidelity and discuss other issues pertinent to Nepali life such as arranged marriages, the caste system, and the Hindu faith. "The Good Shopkeeper" and "Deepak Misra's Secretary" are examples of stories in which the characters, searching for acceptance and satisfaction in life, are found engaging in extramarital affairs. "This World" and "A Great Man's Homage" bring up issues dealing with the "freedoms" of expression allowed for women, both verbally and sexually. "Limping Bride" and "The Room Next Door" touch, respectively, upon cultural mores regarding matters such as alcoholism and children conceived out of wedlock. Upadhyay's stories leave the reader with much food for thought and will make a good choice for book discussion groups. Highly recommended for most public and academic libraries. Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; First Edition edition (August 2, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618043713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618043712
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #517,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

SAMRAT UPADHYAY is the author of Arresting God in Kathmandu, a Whiting Award winner, The Royal Ghosts, and The Guru of Love, a New York Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year. He has written for the New York Times and has appeared on BBC Radio and National Public Radio. Upadhyay directs the creative writing program at Indiana University.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Gokul Bhandari on August 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
Congratulations to Samrat Upadhyay for the excellent work. As a native of Nepal, I have no doubt that this book has successfully portrayed the simple-yet-intricate, spiritual-yet-material, rustic-yet-urban and naive-yet-sophisticated life in Nepal. While some of the stories have unexpected endings (like that in O Henry stories), most of them are designed to radiate subtle messages from the very beginning, which is really the evidence of writer's artistry and control over the plot. With his flawless English, the writer has proudly stood in line with other native writers of English.
The suppression of libido under the guise of morality and duty, the recklessness of Nepali youth under the seize of alcohol and the male chauvinism as the core of hindu culture, this book serves the kaleidoscopic purpose not only to view and judge the Nepali society, but also to understand and wonder the complexity of human mind and the conditioning of social surroundings. And in this regard, this book has a universal message and can appeal to all those who desire to understand other fellow beings.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By David J. Gannon on February 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
Samrat Upadhyay's Arresting God in Kathmandu is a book of 9 short stories chronicling life in Nepal, mostly in the capital of Kathmandu. A Nepali now living in the US and writing in English, Upadhyay's book wonderfully brings the sense and feel of Nepal to the reader in a very smooth and articulate manner-much smoother than one would imaging would result from a translation.
The book primarily focuses on relationships between men and women. I say relationship as most of the protagonists depicted are together via arranged marriage and it would not be accurate to call these "love" stories per se.
One of the best features of the novel is the fact it looks at this aspect of Nepali life from the viewpoint of a variety of social stations of Nepali society--from the famous to the forgotten-and does an admirable job of delineating how the dictates and mores of the society burden it's people at all levels and how some are able to avoid/mitigate those effects.
Unfortunately, this limited focus also leads to the major weakness of the book, a somewhat repetitive mantra effect-you feel you've been here before, perhaps one too many times. However, for the most part, the stories are well written and the characters sufficiently engaging that this is in fact a rather minor glitch in the over all context of things.
Nepal is currently a country in social and political upheaval-and hints of that turmoil are introduced fleetingly here and there throughout the text. I personally would have enjoyed a bit more development along those lines as, I suspect, I, like most Americans, are limited in their knowledge of Nepal to what I've read about Mt. Everest climbing expeditions, a topic never even hinted at I this text.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "daegak" on August 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
Having finished Samrat Upadhyay's, Arresting God in Kathmandu, I am listening to Patsy Cline and wishing his next book was already published. I was touched by Samrat Upadhyay's sensitivity and insight into a wide range of emotions from very different character perspectives. I read in an editorial review that if one is wanting an excursion into spirituality that they will be dissapointed. Not so. Samrat Upadhyay captures the true spirituality of everyday suffering and joy without forcing it on the reader. I look forward to Guru of Love in January.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Richard Kurtz on February 8, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
really enjoyed this slim volume of short stories and can't wait to read his first novel. A gifted writer in the tradition of Rohinton Mistry and all the other wonderful and talented Indian writers --and now I have been somewhat exposed to Nepal's culture as well...I highly recommend this book
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. Raja Laskar on May 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
This collection of short stories explores the nature of desire and attraction in a changing society avoiding the excesses of many writers in this area. The stories are well-written and the characters are memorable. I look forward to reading his novel, and I highly recommend this collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 14, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first three stories (chapters) were very engaging and quite enjoyable. By the sixth and seventh story - though each was different - it felt too familiar. Not necessarily predictable, but too much the same as before. The final story switching to first-person was strange and jarring at first, but by the end of the book seemed to "work". The book is definitely entertaining and makes Kathmandu and other areas of Nepal "come alive" even for those of us who have never been there.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Parshuram Mishra on May 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
It's a great book that portrays the social reality of Nepal in a story form.
Congratulation to Samrat for the superb book that he has given to us. I look forward to reading more of his books. Good luck!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J on November 8, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Short stories, current day, set in Nepal. What I liked is the description of places and people - gives you a feel for what it is like in Nepal. What I didn't like is that the stories were mostly sad; stories of disappointment; love lost; etc. However, does give you a sense for cultural differences.
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