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English Writing Conundrum in Nepal
Bhuwan Thapaliya (Bhuwan)   
Literature transcends geographical boundaries and dispatches a universal message of solidarity, love and peace. But it is very disappointing to discern that a rich and diverse literary heritage such as ours should remain incarcerated within the confines of the national boundary ? gulping air from within to achieve buoyancy. Moreover, it will be a lackluster parable to assert an elevated literary altar for Nepali writers writing in English in the international literary podium too ? so close, and yet so far.

Manjushree Thapa and Samrat Upadhaya are two exemptions, but in the international arena, they too are not that successful as they were once believed to be. Apart from occasional critical reviews now and then, and few nominations for some gracious literary accolades, their international commercial success is nothing to write home about. As a Nepali writing in English, both of them are pampered at home but their literary installations too are subjected to languish in obscurity so far as their international recognition is concerned, if we are rational enough in evaluating their credibility in equivalence to their more successful Indian, Afghani or Pakistani counterparts.

No doubt, Salam Rusdie revived the career of Indian English writers, and established their writing careers with his 1981 novel, Midnight셲 Children. Bitten by the Rusdie셲 gigantic literary frost more and more international publishers are publishing the works of Indian English writers since then. And the publishers are reaping the benefits too as The Booker Prize, the world셲 most prestigious literary award for the novel, has been awarded to the writers like Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai and Aravind Adiga in the past 15 years. Before Rusdie, it was hard for Indians to get published abroad though Indian English writings of Rabindranath Tagore, R.K. Narayan etc, have already been accepted by the Western readers.

Likewise in Nepal, Thapa and Upadhaya are the ones who have paved a path for those wishing to write and publish in English though the trend of writing in English was initiated way back by the great bard Devkota himself. Nonetheless, Samrat셲 and Manjushree셲 contribution in promoting English writing from Nepal cannot be redeemed ? they fully deserve the credit.

However, the paradox is this: other writer셲 writing in English are forced to toil beneath these two writer셲 shadow, whose personality as a writer, and whose works (though some of them are par below their own standard as if the law of diminishing returns has lurked in) are often over hyped by the media giving birth to the misconception that there are only two major writers writing in English from Nepal. In reality, it is nothing but a mere fallacy as there are other writers too. However, their rise to fame in Nepal resonate the perfect example of, 쁳he one eyed being the king in the land of the blinds and nothing more, if we are to scrutinize their literary career graph now through the lens of the global literary yardstick.

Nonetheless, they have all the ingredients to taste the International Literary success in the future but for it to happen they should challenge themselves, push their creative boundaries, polish their works uncountable times and write with the balanced amalgamation of rural and urban passion to showcase before the world their deeper understating of the Nepalese nature, people and culture as both these writers main theme, characters and plot revolves around Nepal.

On the flip side, frankly speaking, the story of writing in English is miserable in Nepal. Not that Nepalese do not have talent in English, but due to the lack of literary agent, a solid editor, a publisher and buyer, writers are dying a premature death. Even if their books are published, the sales are minimal and the average readers are not interested in English though the craze for English has risen in Nepal. Yet the books continue to shower the markets igniting optimism about the future of English writing in Nepal. Sushma Joshi, for example, is a good emerging writer but her, The Kathmandu Post columns are far profound than her book 쁔he end of the World.

Nonetheless, number of Nepali writers writing in English has risen but the lack of adequate research in Nepali literature written in English has narrowed its literary worth. But there are ample rosy signs too. There have been efforts to acquaint the people of the world with the richness of Nepali literature in the international scenario by various Nepali literary organizations such as International Nepali Literary Society (INLS), Free Nepal.com etc. A great beginning for sure.

Meanwhile, of late there are foreign readers showing interest on Nepali works in English, most probably because of the internet and its worldwide access and circulation to relatively broader and diverse sections of people. With the constant rise of Nepali writers' writing in English, both in verse and prose, Nepali literature is widely expected to make its presence felt in the international literary landscape in the coming days. .

Forget the English writing in Nepal for a moment and take a glimpse over both the Nepali and world literature. Do we find a good reason to justify the fact that Nepali writers deserve international recognition? They say that if Devkota셲 works were translated into English in his heydays then he would have won the Noble Prize in literature. This articulation, however, will remain as a hypothetical ambiguity evermore.

Nonetheless, aren셳 Gopal Prasad Rimal셲 plays world-class, as powerful as Ibsen셲 dramas and as potent as some of Shakespeare셲 tragedies? Isn셳 Lekhnath Poudyal's "A Parrot in the Cage" a masterpiece against suppression and is as influential as "The Skylark? Furthermore, if Milton, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keats have thrilled the world with their creative endeavors then our own Devkota, Bhupi, Rimal, Lekhnath, Ghimire too have equally enthralled their readers with the literature of the premier eminence. Notwithstanding such richness, it is a great disaster that Nepali literature cordons a dilapidated profile in the international scenario. When will the shackles eventually rust away?

Meanwhile, it is scarcely necessary to point out that great cooperation and understanding should be exercised between the Nepali writers and Nepali English writers if we are to embark on the global literary voyage. The prejudice often expressed against each other is harmful, and such malpractices should be stopped immediately as it has all the recipes to curtail the growth of our literature.

Furthermore, innumerable literary symposiums, writing workshops, writers retreats and mutual literary cooperation seminars should be conducted periodically to achieve a high readership (to inspire the writers) all over Nepal and promote what the Readers Club, Nepal(http://www.readersclubnepal.org.np/) has been promoting 쏿n active reading culture. At this critical juncture of the political imbecility, however, let us hope that the Nepali writers will soon gain the global recognition that they thoroughly deserve.

2009/10/23 삤썑 5:53
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