Sunday, 28 March 2010
Nepal is mourning the demise of our legendary politician, Mr. Girija Prasad Koirala (GPK) , who left us for heavenly abode on 20th March 2010 at the age of 87 years.
He will be known for his hardwork, strong will power and the greatest changes made possible in the country! We and our generation will always remember GPK for his consistent and lifelong devotion for the betterment of Nepal, and for his vision of peace and stability in the country. He was able to bring an unusually positive synergy while coordinating with diverse political interests in country .
Though we might have various political (Partigat) ideologies, we should pay our respect to the national leader and Statesman, and express our solidarity. To offer prayer for the soul to rest in peace and to condole with his family and the people of Nepal, we like to propose a small 'Condolence Meeting' namely “Hamra Lokneta GPK” at the following venue ant time.
Venue: ATW (24 d/11)
Time: Wednesday, 31st of March 2010, at 18:00h.
There will be some short presentation on brief biography of GPK BY Dev Raj Gautam
Posted by Krajend at 16:09
Saturday, 20 March 2010
Today is the biggest and longest Eclipse in Nepalese Politics! We lost the largest comet of nepalese politics!
Today, on 20th March, 2010, the legendary politician of Nepal, Mr. Girija Prasad Koirala passed away at her daughter's house at Mandikhatar, Kathmandu! He was around 87 years old and involved in politics for six decades!
He was known for strong political will power. He never compromised with anyone whom he didnot like or the matter which he didnot like.
He will be known for his hardwork, strong will power and the greatest changes made possible in the country! He was prime minister of Nepal for record five times! His first term of premiership was despite of few controversies, was considered as the golden age for development in Nepal.
After People's Movement two, he visited India. To receive him, the prime minister of India, Dr. Man Mohan Singh went to Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, which is the very rare events in Indian system, even the premier of India, doesnot appear in Airport to welcome the president of any superpower. Dr. Singh, welcame him and appreciated him as "one of the greatest Politician of South Asian countries".
He spent his early ages fighting against British to liberate India. And, later he fought against Rana Dynasty in Nepal, Panchayati systems in Nepal and against the autocracy of monarch. He sometimes used to challenge then powerful King, Gyanendra, "what do you think, monarch? I have worked with your grand parents too, then who you are? I have worked with four kings of Nepal, Tribhuwan, Mahendra, Birendra and you! So, you should be respectful while dealing with me! You understand!""
The untimely demise of Girija Prasad Koirala is the loss of the country and whole south asia! I donot know how can we fill this loss?!
GP Koirala at SAARC Meeting
If we really want to provide our sincere gratitude to him, we should promulgate the most inclusive and democratic constitution on given time and strengthen the social integrity and harmony! Read more...
Posted by Krajend at 10:12
Thursday, 18 March 2010
At the Buesgen Institute - Soil Science of Tropical and Subtropical
Ecosystems, University of Goettingen, Germany we offer the positions of:
2 PhD Students (0,65 TV-L E 13) in Soil Science/Ecology
beginning May 2010 for three years. The successful candidates will
work on the project: ‘Trace gas fluxes and soil N cycling under elevated nutrient input’. This research project is part of the
interdisciplinary research unit 816 ‘Biodiversity and Sustainable
Management of a Megadiverse Mountain Ecosystem in South Ecuador
(www.tropicalmountainforest.org) which is funded by the DFG.
Supervision will be done jointly by Prof. Dr. Edzo Veldkamp and Dr.
Project description: The first PhD student will determine the
long-term fates of added nitrogen in montane and lowland forest soils
exposed to chronic N addition. For this goal we plan to use the 15N
pool dilution method and a 15N pulse chase experiment. The second PhD
student will quantify the effects of chronic N addition on the surface
fluxes of N2O, NO, CO2, and CH4 from the montane forest soils and other
sources. All three sites of the forest nutrient addition experiment
are located in Southern Ecuador where they were established in 2007
and are near to good laboratory/research/housing facilities.
Applicants should hold a M.Sc. or diploma degree in soil science,
ecology, environmental sciences, geosciences, forestry, biology or
related disciplines. The successful candidates are expected to be in
Ecuador for prolonged periods to carry out research works with regular
visits to the home institution for discussions/data analysis/writing.
Excellent knowledge of English is essential. Basic knowledge of
Spanish or willingness to learn it is necessary. Good social skills
are essential to work effectively with our multi-national and multi-
disciplinary team. More information about our institute can be found
Please send your application the latest on 08.04.2010 to:
Prof. Dr. Edzo Veldkamp
Buesgen Institute -Soil Science of Tropical and Subtropical Ecosystems
37077 Goettingen, Germany
Die Universitaet Goettingen strebt in den Bereichen in denen Frauen
unterrepraesentiert sind, eine Erhoehung des Frauenanteils an und
forert daher qualifizierte Frauen ausdrücklich zur Bewerbung auf.
Schwerbeninderte Menschen werden bei eintsprechender Eignung
bervorzugt beruecksichtigt. Read more...
Posted by Krajend at 13:14
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
When it comes to arms exports, few will be surprised that the US tops the list, with 30 percent of global expenditures on arms going to weaponry from America. Second place is likewise hardly a shocker -- 23 percent of the world's weapons originate in Russia.
Given Berlin's tentative forays into geopolitics in recent years -- against a backdrop of deep domestic skepticism about German involvement in conflicts across the globe -- it is perhaps not surprising that the opposition is up in arms at the SIPRI ranking.
Indeed, the Greens are now demanding greater parliamentary oversight for arms exports. "This report shows that we need more stringent control over and sharper criteria governing arms exports," Green leader Claudia Roth told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. Parliament must finally get the right to monitor the government's weapons exports, she continued, adding that such control was commonplace elsewhere.
Dangerous Arms Race
Most of German arms sales go to NATO member states, with Turkey and Greece counting among the country's best customers along with South Africa. Still, Roth said that there is a "powder keg situation" in some regions in the world and the export of weapons to such areas could result in dangerous arms races.
The Stockholm-based SIPRI also warned about of arms races in volatile regions such as the Middle East, North Africa, South America as well as South and Southeast Asia. Arms transfers to South America have risen by 150 percent over the last five years, in comparison to the years 2000-2004, the report found. In Southeast Asia the wave of weaponry could "destabilize the region, jeopardizing decades of peace," the institute warned.
The researchers found that the worldwide trade of rockets, fighter jets, weapons and munitions was up by 22 percent over the last five years. Expensive fighter jets have proven particularly attractive, with their sale making up 27 percent of total arms sold.
"Resource-rich states have purchased a considerable quantity of expensive combat aircraft. Neighboring rivals have reacted to these acquisitions with orders of their own," said Paul Holtom, head of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme, in a statement.
China and India lead the pack of arms importers, but Singapore and Algeria made the top 10 for the first time. Indeed, Singapore arms imports increased by 146 percent during the period of 2005-2009 against the years 2000-2004. Malaysian arms purchases increased by 722 percent during the same period.
SIPRI regularly comes up with higher estimates of German arms exports than the German government, primarily due to the fact that the institute includes compensation deals in their statistics in addition to the sales of used weaponry and "presents."
Jan van Ajen, deputy floor leader of the far-left Left Party, called the increase in German arms exports "horrible" and called for a ban. "There shouldn't be any jobs in this country devoted to the death of other people," he told the Frankfurter Rundschau.
Rainer Arnold, security spokesman for the opposition Social Democrats, told the newspaper, however, that he finds "nothing objectionable" about German companies supplying weapons to NATO allies. Deliveries to other countries, he continued, must be viewed "very critically."Read more...
Posted by Krajend at 12:52
Sunday, 14 March 2010
UNIVERSITY OF HOHENHEIM
INSTITUTE OF PLANT BREEDING, SEED SCIENCE AND POPULATION GENETICS
The department of Crop Biodiversity and Breeding Informatics focuses on the development and application of methods to study environmental adaptation in wild and crop plants, to detect natural and artificial selection and to utilize this knowledge for plant breeding. We have an open position for
a PhD student
in one of the following areas:
* Genetics of environmental adaptation in model or crop plants
* Evolution and genetics of crop domestication
* Population and quantitative genetic methods for genetic mapping and plant breeding
Candidates with degree in plant or animal breeding, bioinformatics, mathematics, quantitative genetics or evolutionary biology and a strong interest in current genomic or quantitative approaches are welcome to apply. Good computing skills (Unix, programming, statistical software) are a plus.
The Ph.D. position is part the BMBF-funded SYNBREED research consortium with partners from academia and industry (www.synbreed.tum.de). The project goal is to develop new bioinformatic and quantitative genetic approaches to improve genomic selection in plant and animal breeding. In particular, evolutionary and genome-based methods will be evaluated and further developed for applications in practical breeding. Within the consortium there is an excellent network of researchers and very good possibilities for further training in quantitative methods by way of summer schools and specialised training courses. The position is paid according to E 13 TV-L (50% part time) and is suitable for obtaining a doctoral degree.
The University of Hohenheim is located on a beautiful campus in Stuttgart and has a critical mass of well connected research groups working on animal and plant breeding. Further information can be obtained at www.uni-hohenheim.de or from the contact information below. The University of Hohenheim is an equal opportunity employer. Women and members of minority groups are strongly encouraged to apply.
Please send your application (Cover letter, CV, publications, statement of research interests, addresses of at least two references) until 26 April 2010 as a single PDF document to Bärbel Hessenauer (email@example.com).
Prof. Dr. Karl Schmid
Institute of Plant Breeding, Seed Science and Population Genetics
D-70599 Stuttgart, Germany
Phone: +49 711 459 23487
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Read more...
Posted by Krajend at 13:23
Friday, 12 March 2010
The Environmental Policy Group (in cooperation with the sub-department of Environmental Technology) offers a position for a PhD student. The successful candidate will investigate the governance of climate change in metropolitan regions, in particular the governance challenges stemming from the emergence of new configurations of material flows and the introduction of new technological concepts, designed to deal with climate impacts on the ground. The project aims to better understand the relationship between adaptive capacities, new technological concepts, and the governance of climate change in metro-regions. Research will focus on different areas of climate governance (energy, transport, water and food) in (Dutch) metro-regions and the roles that local authorities play in multi-level climate governance.
· degree (M.A., M.Sc.) in Environmental Sciences or Social Sciences (with a strong interest in environmental issues) and an excellent academic record; · experience with empirical research projects, interdisciplinary research and different research methods would be an advantage;· independent and result-orientated way of working and well-developed social skills;· excellent communication and writing skills in English; willingness to acquire Dutch language skills (if Dutch is not your native language).
Conditions of employment
We offer you fulltime employment (38 hours a week) for 18 months with a possible extension of 30 months after positive evaluation. The gross salary is € 2.042,- per month in the first year and increases to € 2.612,- per month in the fourth year. (based on fulltime employment). In addition, we offer a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-the-year bonus of 8.3% of your annual salary. You will be appointed at the Environmental Policy Group, within the in Department of Social Sciences at Wageningen University. The group has a strong international profile in the area of environmental social science and policy research and education. Our 15 staff and over 35 PhD students focus on topics associated with sustainable consumption and production, sustainable natural resource use and global environmental change. Research has a strongly international orientation with research conducted at the global level as well as in number of countries across Europe, Africa and Asia.(http://www.enp.wur.nl/UK). Additional information can be obtained from: Dr. Kristine Kern (tel.: +31(0)317483917email: email@example.com or Prof. dr. Gert Spaargaren (tel.: +31(0)317483874email: firstname.lastname@example.org Please do not send your application to the email addresses mentioned above. To apply, please use the button on this page. Deadline for application: 5 April 2010
18 months with a possible extension of 30 months
Wageningen University and ResearchCentre
Delivering a substantial contributionto the quality of life. That's our focus – each and every day.Within our domain, healthy food and living environment, we search foranswers to issues affecting society – such as sustainable foodproduction, climate change and alternative energy. Of course, wedon’t do this alone. Every day, 6,500 people work on ‘the qualityof life’, turning ideas into reality, on a global scale. Couldyou be one of these people? We give you the space you need.Forfurther information about working at Wageningen UR, take a look atwww.jobsat.wur.nl.
Posted by Krajend at 20:14
Monday, 8 March 2010
Various organisations working for the welfare of women and advocating for gender equality are organising rallies, seminars, interactions and assemblies, among others across the nation to mark the International Women’s Day.
Women ministry is organising a mass rally and an assembly comprising of representatives of various women organisations in Tundikhel this afternoon. Likewise, the women wing of major political parties including the Unified CPN (Maoist) and CPN (UML) are also organising separate mass assemblies today.
Various women’s organisations including Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industries-Women Entrepreneurship Development Committee (FNCCI-WEDC), Fair Trade Group Nepal (FTG Nepal) and Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Associations of Nepal (FWEAN) have launched a four-day special programme at Bhrikuti Mandap to mark the centenary of the 100th International Women’s Day.
The government has declared Monday a public holiday on the occasion of International Women’s Day and stipulated a theme of ‘Violence free household’ for the Women’s Day celebrations in Nepal.
Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal issued a message on the occasion of the International Women’s Day. He has urged everyone to be sensitive and proactive to end all kinds of discriminations, violence, torture, and abuses against women through his message. PM Nepal has also mentioned in his message, the government is preparing to table a bill to address domestic violence. Nepal government is observing 2010 as the ‘Year against violence against women.’
The International Women’s Day is observed throughout the world on March 8. It was first observed on March 8, 1910. A conference of women garment workers had decided to observe March 8 as the international women’s day in 1910 to remember an uprising of women garment workers in the USA 1857. nepalnews.com
Posted by Krajend at 06:22
Friday, 5 March 2010
Source:by Rajani | February 2006 (Samudaya.Org)
Samrat Upadhyay is the author of the short story collections Arresting God in Kathmandu and The Royal Ghosts, and the novel The Guru of Love. He is the recipient of the annual Whiting Writers' Award. His latest collection of stories, The Royal Ghosts, has been reviewed on this site.
Rajani: I read Arresting God a few years ago and I feel like Royal Ghosts is an improvement. The stories are more dramatic and more interesting. Did you make any changes in your writing consciously or do you think you have just grown better as a writer? Do you agree your second short story collection is better?
Samrat Upadhyay: It's impossible not to grow as a writer if you treat it as a discipline and work on improving your craft—on a regular basis. With The Royal Ghosts, even while I was writing the individual stories, I was more conscious of them eventually culminating in a book, so some of my approaches in terms of characters and points of view were more deliberate. I attempted a wider angle in the collection, hoping to embrace a wider perspective of concerns and positions. My first collection, Arresting God in Kathmandu, was written over a span of ten years, starting with my initial days in graduate school, with no idea on my part that they'd be published as a book.
But I don't agree that The Royal Ghosts is better than Arresting God. Someone once said that asking such a question of writers is akin to asking them which of their children they favor. These are different books. Arresting God has a youthful, roaming quality, a feeling of irreverence that I cherish. The Royal Ghosts is a more mature book, for sure, but better? I'll leave that to the individual reader.
R: You live in the United States and have done so for at least the past few years. Yet almost all your stories are set in Kathmandu. Did you go back to Nepal before you wrote Royal Ghosts for research, or is it entirely based on memory?
SU: I go to Nepal whenever I can, at least once every year or two years. I didn't research The Royal Ghosts as one might when writing a work of nonfiction, but I am acutely aware of the political scene in Nepal, and well as how things have changed there over the years. For a writer like me who lives here and writes about there (and I'd argue this applies to all writers, regardless of where they live and write about what), the form emerges out of an interaction between imagination and reality. Imagination shapes reality, and powerful literature always is about this shaping, and not the world itself. The world is finite, the shaping is not, and that's why there are infinite possibilities of innovation in literature.
R: Are your characters drawn from real life? Is there one (or more) character in your stories that is based on yourself?
SU: Some are. Most are composites of real people and fake people. No character based on myself—am I that interesting?
R: Your characters though are not "interesting people". They live pretty ordinary lives. Have you been moved or inspired by certain people (ordinary or otherwise) or are these the stories of every-person?
SU: I find them interesting when I write, and it's crucial for writers to become engaged with their characters; otherwise they turn lethargic on the page. I am interested in the activities of the "ordinary," if you will, and how the ordinary moments can lead to extraordinary epiphanies in our lives. These ordinary moments can carry what Raymond Carver called "startling power," a sudden illumination of an object, a movement, a feeling that can then become a tremendous source of energy for the story, carrying with it transformation that embraces everything around it. Also, my characters often observe other characters, and in these voyeuristic moments too something happens, a transfer of feeling or mood that then becomes the impetus for further changes in the story. After a while, it's hard to distinguish what's ordinary and what's not, and I think that sort of equanimity is something I strive for, and value, in my fiction.
R: You've said in interviews that you write every single day. That sort of discipline is really admirable. Were you always so consistent or is this something that happened gradually? For example, sometimes life gets in the way. People who want to write have other jobs, school, etc. I feel like people are not really encouraged to pursue creative writing as a full time career. How has your experience been?
SU: The discipline has come gradually. In the beginning I used to rely on the conventional muse, but now I will the muse to come when I sit down to write every day. And yes, there are other things to take care of. I'm a husband, a father. I'm also a teacher, so I have student stories to read and comment on, meetings to attend, readings to give—all of these are part and parcel of the life I've chosen. I get up very early, sometimes as early as three am, to write. Now it's become a habit.
Unless you're a Stephen King or a John Grisham, most writers have other jobs. Increasingly, most like me make their home in academia, where we get to share our love of literature, teach others what we know, and get summers off to do our own writing. Luckily, my parents didn't force me to become a doctor or an engineer, so I was able to major in English as an undergraduate and pursue creative writing at the graduate level. I have been heartened, in the past few years, by how many young Nepalis have joined or expressed interest in joining creative writing programs, or in the least have pursued work in the humanities.
R: I think there is a Faulkner quote that goes something like: "I only write when I'm inspired. Fortunately, I'm inspired at 9 o'clock every morning." How was your experience as a student of creative writing? Do you think you would have written the books you have written whether or not you pursued creative writing in college?
SU: These "what would have happened if" questions are, of course, hard to answer, but I think I would have ended up becoming a writer no matter what, although the road might have been a bit tougher. I think being in a creative writing program, with amazing colleagues and teachers, helped me become more disciplined, and made me widen my aesthetics, from the mad stories of Denis Johnson to the controlled narration of Peter Taylor, for example.
R: In one of your interviews, you have talked about "exoticization" of stories by non-native English writers, and you've said you dislike this. Quote: "The profusion of "Hai Ram's" and spices in some works from South Asia are a major turnoff for me." I remember reading Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer prize winning collection "Interpreter of Maladies" and quite liking it. Then I thought I'd read her novel "The Namesake", opened to the first page and read "Asmina Ganguli stands in the kitchen of a Central Square apartment combining Rice Krispies and Planters peanuts and chopped red onion in a bowl. She adds salt, lemon juice, thin slices of green chili pepper" and so on. This typical Calcutta snack was described in several stories in the first book to good effect, but when I saw this in the opening scene of the second book, I was fed up and turned off. It seems extremely difficult for a writer who is South Asian but who writes in English to balance this sort of thing. First of all, if you're writing in English, you know your readership is going to consist of more non-Nepalis than Nepalis. Second, the writer has to deal with the fact that "exoticized" fiction is more likely to get published in the West. And so, is it really healthy for a writer to be conscious of all these things that are actually external to the actual writing? Even if you were to say that one should not write with an eye on certain audiences or publishing markets, how can a writer remain authentic and true to himself? Do you struggle with these questions?
SU: Whew! This has to be the longest question I've received in any interview so far. I'll try my best to make my answer shorter than your question.
What is "external" to the writing and what is the "actual" writing is not as easy to distinguish. The external world is always shaping us, and we already have numerous audiences in our minds—parents, friends, critics, readers, editors—even if we were to pretend we were writing a diary entry we've vowed not to show anyone. Writing is at once an individual and a social act, and the question of "authentic and true" is always a negotiation between the self and the world. Who knows what our authentic self is? Spiritualists spend a lifetime trying to find answer to this. Philosophers for ages have pondered this.
Does this mean that the writer "caters" to a primary audience? No. That's marketing. I write for the love of writing, but that doesn't mean that I position myself and my work so that I am able to market it. I write out of my heart, and I hope my work speaks to other hearts. I am well aware that both Western and Eastern readers will read my work, and there's nothing wrong with trying to address both these audiences, or to the audience in between, but that's not the same as writing with the sole intent of pleasing them or "currying" their favor (how's that for an exotic phrase?).
R: I understand that you (and other writers) write for the love of writing but isn't there pressure (if you're Asian, if you're a woman, etc.) to write in a certain way? I am not only talking about the expectations of the reader, but from editors, publishers etc. Is there an idea of the South Asian writer (or the foreign writer, the writer from the third world country, etc.) that leads to certain expectations? Maybe you feel the pressure more acutely when you are unpublished?
SU: I have never felt the pressure. My editor herself is a novelist, so we often focus on craft-related issues when we work on revision. The idea that Western publishers, in their desire to orientalize or exoticise the East, will publish only a certain kind of work from foreign writers is not something I have experienced, and is certainly not borne out by the wild variety of fiction that gets published, whether from South Asian writers or others. Sure, there'll always be some who have set ideas about what "ethnic" fiction ought to read like—I am reminded of one reviewer for a major newspaper who lamented that The Guru of Love wasn't appealing enough because I didn't dwell on the mountains.
R: Do you think there are similarities of themes and style among South Asian writers writing in English? Do you consider yourself part of a group or completely independent? Also, are there writers who are very different from you as far as circumstances (time, place etc) go, but who you consider similar in spirit?
SU: Rushdie's metaphor of a "broken mirror" applies to most South Asian writers writing about their homelands. The concerns of fragmentation, dislocation haunts many of us. That we write in English, our cherished alien tongue, in itself a gesture of displacement. When I began writing, I was greatly influenced by writers such as Rushdie, Anita Desai, R.K. Narayan, and Amitav Ghosh. Of course, I grew up in Nepal, so geographically there's a degree of independence. But it's not only the Indian writers. There are other writers who are my spiritual kin: Irish storyteller William Trevor, and the South African Nadine Gordimer, who was a tremendous influence on my approach to the short story. I've also been influenced by poets such as Pablo Neruda.
R: I would like you to comment on certain perceptions about yourself. Two comments from Time magazine:
1. "One of the first Nepali writers to publish fiction in the West, he has been called the "Buddhist Chekhov." He's not Anton Chekhov, but he is Buddhist, and the influence of the religion—observant, detached, cyclical—is richly apparent."
2. "Upadhyayis that rarity among authors of a subcontinental drift: he is an under-writer, both in style and substance, the anti-Arundhati."
1. Chekhov was a Buddhist, don't you know? It's rumored that his famous story "The Lady with the Pet Dog" came about after he made a pilgrimage to Swayambhunath and saw a young Nepali woman with a monkey on a leash. I'm joking, of course, but I'm amusedly and humbly flattered to be compared to Chekhov, and if the reviewer wants to throw in my quasi-Buddhist upbringing to comment on my fiction, that's his prerogative. I am interested in the cyclical nature of life, but I wouldn't attribute it solely to the Hindu-Buddhist philosophical outlook, because I believe many Western writers also display similar interest—Raymond Carver, example.
2. So, I am like Chekhov but with a Buddhist tint, but I'm the exact opposite of Roy? How about Upadhyay has 20% of Amitav Ghosh's historical acuity; he writes like Rohinton Mistry on ganja; he's a male Anita Desai, he's an anorexic Suketu Mehta; or he's a "poor man's Jhumpa Lahiri," as one magazine actually called me?
R: How different are the reactions of Westerners and Nepalis to your work? Does the reaction of the Nepali diaspora differ significantly?
SU: I get varied reactions from both groups. The Nepali diaspora is not a monolithic gang, so the reactions too are mixed. Since I am writing about Nepal, Nepalis here and in Nepal often respond forcefully to my work. When Arresting God first came out, a friend told me about attending a Nepali gathering in the U.S. where people opined passionately about the book, especially those who hadn't read it.
There's a feeling of ownership among Nepalis when it comes to my work, and it cuts both ways. There are Nepalis who, I imagine, are not convinced by my depiction of Nepal, particularly the sexual content of my first book. It's nothing new in the history of writers. James Joyce, for example, was not only criticized but also banned on moral grounds. Salman Rushdie is still routinely castigated by Indian critics. Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, even as he's adored worldwide, is sneered at by Japanese critics who consider him too low-brow, or not Japanese enough. It's part and parcel of a writer's life, isn't it? Once the book is out in the public domain, it's fair game.
On the other hand, I get emails from Nepalis all over the world telling me how moved they are by my stories. I frequently hear from aspiring writers in English who feel that the critical reception to my work has made them hopeful about their own.
R:Yes, sometimes in discussions it seems like a lot of criticism is directed towards your (mis)representation of Nepal. For me, personally, reading your book was an experience that I immediately recognized as having to do with so much more than just the stories or the quality of the writing. It was not only about your Nepali-ness but also about my own. So responses are bound to be complicated. Some of the criticism is unreasonable though isn't it? Like when people assume that when you write about sex, you are necessarily catering to a Western audience.
SU: Writing is not a reasonable business, and often you are your own worst critic. It's true, though, that I have never understood this Nepali preoccupation with sex in my first book—to me it's part of the overall narrative of the stories, and I can't isolate it for discussion. I mean, Nepali writers have ploughed this territory with passion before, so what's the big deal? There's a tendency, I think, to become super-hyper with the idea of Westerners reading something about Nepal, as if one has to instantly on guard and catch "errors" (Nepalis having sex? But we really don't; at least not in the depraved, licentious Western way!). If I really wanted to cater to the Western audience, I would have gone the full route, i.e., Nepalis having sex, en masse, on the murky shores of Bagmati, you know, Anjalis and Saritas copulating with Mukuls and Avinashs. For added exotic and erotic effect, I would have maybe painted a riot in the background, with King G's constipated face looking down benevolently from a billboard. Wait! That's actually a great image. Maybe I will use it in my next work.
R: Are you ever going to write stories set in the United States? You've said that the theme of cultural clashes (in an immigrant's life) has been done to death. But surely there are ways of doing this that does not just rehash the same types of stories and situations?
SU: I'm sure there are ways of making anew the concerns of immigrant fiction. Right now I'm just not the author to do it. But I also don't want to say never because a writer's interests can change, and there is a possibility I'd want to venture into this area.
R: When discussion of your work is taking place (in online forums for example) the name of Manjushree Thapa tends to come up. People either claim that she is a better or worse writer than you. Have you read her work and if so, what do you think? Also, have you read any other Nepali writers writing in English? What kind of a future do you see for Nepali writers?
SU: Manjushree Thapa is an accomplished writer, and I admire her books, especially Forget Kathmandu. Her candor, and her commitment to what she believes in, something she articulates both in her fiction and nonfiction, is an inspiration. As for being worse or better, readers have tastes, and they make pronouncements according to their tastes, as they are entitled to. Yes, I do read Nepali writers in English. Peter Karthak's EveryPlace EveryPerson, for example, is a very engaging read, and I even wrote a blurb for it.
I am optimistic about the future of Nepali writing in English, but aspiring writers should be wary of falling prey to what Indian writer Vikram Chandra calls "the cult of authenticity": the belief, especially among conservative critics, that 'accurate' representation of culture/nation supercedes art, and that there is one true picture of culture/nation that writers, especially those writing in English, often distort for the exotic-hungry West. I'm paraphrasing, but Chandra's essay playfully demolishes the notion of "Indianness" in Indian writing in English. Translated into the Nepali context, the "authentic representation" argument is often espoused by those I've come to regard fondly as Titleholders of Nepali Reality. These people know what constitutes Nepaliness, who is allowed to speak about it, and how it should be spoken about, and most often they deliver their sermon without any penetrating discussion of the substance or style of the literary work in question. They know the real Nepal, and if the work they encounter doesn't match their version, their idea of critical response is to pontificate. Young writers should recognize that the titleholder's Nepal is also a mythical Nepal, in which the East and West are at polar opposites, all Nepali writing in Nepali is pure and rooted in authentic culture (notwithstanding the fact that even our giant Devkota himself borrowed literary tricks from the English Romantics; many contemporary Nepali writers also admit Western influence), and Nepali writing in English is suspect because it's _(fill in the blank here).
New writers should particularly be aware that no one work captures the ultimate Nepali reality (isn't Nepal right now a battleground for competing realities?), that we can only prod at it from different angles, hoping that some of what we say will resonate with the readers, that they'll see some of themselves in it, and more importantly, that they'll see something different, something strange and provocative. In order to achieve this, it's important not to succumb to the shrill voices of these watchdogs of Nepalipan, and to trust one's own vision and plunge in.
I'm reminded of Chinua Achebe, who, after reading Conrad's Heart of Darkness and not recognizing his Africa in it, went on to create his own Things Fall Apart. It didn't diminish Conrad (a better writer by far, in my opinion), but it did a heck of a job in galvanizing postcolonial literature. We need writers who take it upon themselves to produce interesting, challenging, even controversial work, hound publishers to publish it, and let the beast loose on the public. That's what will energize Nepali literary scene in English, and it'll enrich all of us.Read more...
Posted by Krajend at 15:42