Discussion:
new Nepal books at GALF 2014
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V M
2014-10-18 10:51:59 UTC
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Thanks to the initiative of poet/artist/diplomat Abhay Kumar
(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abhay_Kumar) of the Indian Embassy at
Kathmandu, the fifth anniversary edition og Goa Arts + Literature
Festival (December 4-7 2014) will feature an unprecedented lineup of
new writers and books from Nepal, who are being acclaimed for
"rewriting" the country
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/niranjan-kunwar/rewriting-nepal-2014-is-m_b_5776448.html

For the first time ever, Thomas Bell, Prashant Jha and Aditya Adhikari
and others will present their books on the same platform. Adhikari's
book will have its exclusive India release at GALF on 6th December.

Bell's "Kathmandu' has been described as "an encompassing and
engrossing portrait of a city, mixing ancient history with
anthropology, political intrigue with personal anecdote"
http://m.newindianexpress.com/books/368525

Jha and Adhikari's new books are discussed together in this superb
long review essay in the latest issue of Caravan Magazine, linked and
excerpted below.

GALF is free and open to all from December 4-7. Register now
http://www.goaartlitfest.com/registration.php

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From Caravan http://www.caravanmagazine.in/books/after-kingdom
"Jha and Adhikari continue this project of rescuing Nepali history
from the royalist pap that has long smothered it. The authors are both
journalists, as well as friends and collaborators, who came of age
during the 1990s and experienced the subsequent vicissitudes at first
hand. That said, in Battles of the New Republic and The Bullet and the
Ballot Box they take significantly different approaches to both
material and methodology. Jha is bold: a single-volume history of a
country?s transformation from a kingdom into a republic and all that
this entails, especially in a land as diverse as Nepal, is prone to
faults of omission. But his tale succeeds admirably in transmitting a
sense of the magnitude and significance of recent events. He covers
the Maoists, but also engages deeply with other key actors?most
notably the old democratic parties, Madhesi activists and politicians,
and organs of the Indian state. For its path-breaking coverage of
these latter two especially, many prominent commentators on Nepali
affairs have already declared Battles of the New Republic a landmark
achievement.

Jha builds his account using copious interviews?perhaps no other
Nepali journalist boasts the same access to key activists,
politicians, bureaucrats and intelligence officials?and weaves the
voices of a plethora of characters together with personal memoir in
the style of narrative journalism. That, combined with Jha?s complex
outlook as a high-caste Madhesi with personal and linguistic ties both
to Nepal and India, as well as to those exercising power in Kathmandu
and those grappling for it in the Madhes, renders this as much a
significant social history as a political one.

While Jha works thematically, Adhikari?s narrative is more strictly
chronological. In laying out, step by step, the birth, growth and
evolution of the Maoist party and the armed rebellion, The Bullet and
the Ballot Box is cogent and detailed. But its concern is mostly only
with the Maoists, and it fails to engage deeply with several other
dynamics that have played out since the 1990s, such as the rise of
Madhesi politics. We learn much of what the Maoists did, but get less
of a feel for how their choices reflected shifts in a far-reaching
political web that tied them to the palace, multiple political parties
and movements, and India?and this weakens the book?s account of the
Maoist movement itself.

For individual stories of the movement and the hopes and changes it
has kindled, Adhikari relies less on interviews and more on fiction,
poetry and memoir dealing with thorny social issues and the war, a
profusion of which has emerged in recent years. His summaries of these
texts?most available only in Nepali?form a remarkable literary and
social history that is especially valuable to anyone curious about the
wealth of new Nepali writing but unable to read the language.
Sprinkled throughout the book, these sections are some of its
highlights, and enliven what can, at times, seem a dry procession of
facts."

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