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Nepali Writer Longlisted for Irish Prize
Samrat Upadhyay is the face of English-language Nepali fiction
Deepak Adhikari (deeplog)     Print Article 
Published 2006-07-17 19:54 (KST)   
Samrat Upadhyay
©2006 Shruti Shrestha
Nepali-born writer Samrat Upadhyay has been named a finalist in the Frank O'Connor International Short Story competition.

When I met Upadhyay in the Hotel Ambassador in Lajimpat on July 14 he had recently learned the news. "When I saw the list of finalists, I was surprised," he said.

Come September, this 43-year-old writer of a recently published and much acclaimed short story collection, The Royal Ghosts, will attend the award ceremony in Ireland. Who knows, he could be the winner! Upadhyay has his fingers crossed for good luck.

The road to literary success has not been easy for Upadhyay.

Earlier on July 8 at a meet the author event at the Education Book House in Jamal, Katmandu, I heard him tell a curious teenage fan, "I started writing professionally at age 28."

The bookshop was filled with young urban Nepali book lovers waiting to get his autograph in their copy of The Royal Ghosts, which uses the infamous royal murder-suicide as the backdrop for the title story.

He talked about the agony a writer undergoes while writing: conceiving the idea for a story, plot, characters, and the writing process.

"At times, I'm obsessed with a paragraph," he said.

After attending Nepal's prestigious St. Xavier's School, Upadhyay went to the U.S. to earn a degree in English literature at age 21. He then worked a number of jobs, teaching English in Saudi Arabia and in Kathmandu, and working with a travel magazine called Nepal Travelers. He then embarked upon another journey to the U.S. to complete his Ph.D.

The Royal Ghosts
©2006 Houghton Mifflin Company, USA
Now a teacher of creative writing at Indiana University, in the U.S., he frequently travels home, follows events unfolding in Nepal, and writes stories on the topic that he knows best: Nepal and its people.

Upadhyay is often criticized for the explicit portrayal of sex in his work.

"It's a mixed reaction. People who criticize my work for too much sex also enjoy it," he said.

The criticism comes mainly from Nepali readers. Western readers, according to Upadhyay, have never commented on the issue of sex in his stories.

Upadhyay's first story collection, Arresting God in Kathmandu, earned him a 2001 Whiting Writers' Award. His other work includes a novel, Guru of Love, published in 2003.
For more information and interviews with Samrat Upadhyay visit the following Websites:
Deepak's Diary
The Middle Stage
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Deepak Adhikari

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