Samrat Upadhyay and The Royal Ghosts

Samrat Upadhayay, writer of The Royal Ghosts has dedicated the book to his daughter
The Writer, his daughter and the book: Samrat Upadhayay, has dedicated his latest book The Royal Ghosts to his daughter Pic courtesy Samrat Upadhyay

By Deepak Adhikari
“What remains if sex is taken out from your fiction?” Samrat Upadhyay, acclaimed 42 year old writer, told us in our rendezvous at Babar Mahal Revisited in mid-June, “You’ll find your answer in my upcoming story collection The Royal Ghosts. There won’t be much sex in it, though not entirely sexless.” Samrat’s writing is often dubbed as ‘soft- porn,’ an epithet he thinks more fitting for Shobhaa Desque works.

With the release of The Royal Ghosts in early February in US market, these questions must have haunted him like a ghost. But, in an age of writers taking half decade to come up with a book, three books with six years is in itself a remarkable achievement.

I was in Dubai when I first read about Samrat in Kosheli, a Saturday supplement of Kantipur Daily. (Coincidentally, I am told he taught in a university in Saudi Arabia). In the piece I read some five years ago, he was mentioned as the first Nepali writer to be published in the West. I murmured: “Here’s a guy who can beat the Englishmen in their own game.” As soon as I came back home in the autumn of 2002, I bought a copy of Arresting God in Kathmandu and relished reading it, though the title which didn’t appear among the stories baffled me and I gathered it was inscribed willy-nilly. Arresting.. was followed by a novel Guru of Love which only received a lukewarm response.

We in Nepal Magazine featured him among Nepalis living in the West and making it big. Last June, when he came back home, he was treated like a movie star. He kept himself busy giving interviews to the media, attending programs and most importantly signing his books at a book fair at Brikutimandap. I peeked through the milling and cooing crowd at Bhrikutimandap. He was sweating apparently because of exhaustion. I also saw another writer Peter J Karthak taking leave from Samrat, his one time colleague at Nepal Traveller. Then, Samrat didn’t know me.

As February fell, my anxiety to do new feature stories for Nepal Magazine grew, and the hullabaloo of Valentine Day began, how can I forget our very own Guru of Love? I mailed him inquiring about his story collection due in February. He had said: “Short story is my first love. So, in a way I am returning to it with The Royal Ghosts.” He replied me that The Royal Ghosts is already out in US market, but it may take months to hit the South Asian market. I got a mixed feeling. I envied the people living in the US who were able to read the book instantly. Why this privilege only for them? I googled him and found very few informations on his works.

Unlike Manjushree Thapa who has her own website, he doesn’t have one. However, there’s an interesting review of The Royal Ghosts in Samudaya
by Rajani
. Currently, I am reading Jhumpa Lahiri‘s Interpreter of Maladies and hearing a lot about Kiran Desai’s new novel Inheritance of Loss, set in the backdrop of Kalingpong. I was compelled to compare these three writers. I will dwell upon this sometime later.

As Samrat’s new book is reviewed worldwide, from Time Asia to The New York Times, from Rediff.com to India Abroad, he obviously is the man of the hour. I fond an excerpt of the story titled “The Refugee.” It bears the stamp of his lucid and illustrative prose. Characters are familiar, so are the milieu– Kathmandu and its vicinity.

UWB Note: UWB blogger Deepak Adhikari maintains his personal web blog Deepak’s Diary. He first wrote this piece there.

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19 thoughts on “Samrat Upadhyay and The Royal Ghosts”

  1. Will this book be banned in Nepal? I am super eager to read this as soon as it comes in the Nepali market. I have been a great fan of Samrat’s two previous books Arresting God in Kathmandu and Guru of Love.

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  2. “Arresting God in Kathmandu” was a load of c rap. His daughter will be ashamed when she grows up reading his sick fables. I would rather read “Mastaram’s” book if I really ever need to read a porno.

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  3. I was delighted when I saw “Arresting God in Kathmandu” few years back authored by Samrat. It was exciting to read books from a nepali writer in western arena. The book was nothing special but I was glad that somebody dared to write a book about nepali sexual context. Very liberating and open minded! Hopefully this new book is good.

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  4. if he is able to depict KG as a ghost of Nepali people, then this writer is a Hero. Otherwise, this guy makes his living by selling mere ‘catchy titles’.

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  5. samrat’s books are certainly not “porn”! where on earth did you get that idea? how many famous writers have included erotic elements in their stories. perhaps it is just that nepali audiences are not familiar with using sexual story lines. erotic writing and porn are two very different things. if you want porn, go to any nepali video store and rent it on dvd!

    If you want excellent erotic writing (and only a tiny fraction of his work is that, in a few stories only), then read samrat. I must agree, however, that his writing is way overrated here in nepal. he has never gotten great reviews of his books in the west (check out new york times review of books for past reviews).

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  6. yea i think his books are pretty good.. arresting god was kinda nice. but i dono why the writer of the above article uses expressions like “beating the english men at their game” it rather shallows the intensity, potrays an immature look..
    its really weird how if the same works were published in nepali they would only make it to rantna park. we never praised books written in nepali with sexual content.. never have i ever heard some anyone ever talk about nepali writers quoting “youn” (sex in nepali). and i am pretty sure even the webmaster wouldnt have put it up on his site if there was one. urac and literera published make more sense that samrat…

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  7. well i jus got a copy of “the royal ghosts”.in fact yesterday…….i read the royal ghosts…the refugee..the wedding hero?…well they were quite gud…..its gr8 2 see some nepali writers out there giving it a go……..well WATCH OUT 4 ME PPL i’ll be writing books 2 as soon as i graduate in a few years!!!!!
    raindrops.onroses@hotmail.com

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  8. ………..ya ani in case sumone does come up wid dat email address………plz inform me 2!!!my email add. is….LOOK UP!!!!!

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  9. hi samrat! so glad for your success. i have a friend poet who is traveling to nepal and india soon and is looking for venues to read. would you–if you read this, i don’t know if you do–let me know if there are any where you are. congratulations on your work and your beautiful daughter, gabrielle

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  10. “What remains if sex is taken out from your fiction?”

    Why would such a writer cheapen his own writing? yes may be he is very direct in his expression, still there are people who are going to be offended by his language.

    Well, what he is saying does carry weight but I wish he had said it differently.

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  11. Brilliant portryal of nepali culture and sociey which is going through dysfunction, disintegration and sexual perversity now a days…..

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  12. Samrat am glad for your success. But I have one suggestion for you. Please come and do some more research in Nepal and then only write. All the best for your success. Please read some works of Manjushree Thapa, Peter J, Yuyutsu RD Sharma, Viplov Pratik, Abhi Subedi, Karna Sakya, Jagadish Ghimire, Bhuwan Thapaliya and some more from the oldies of Nepali literature if you really want to represent nepal to the outside world.

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  13. where is the porn part in this book as that in arresting god in kathmandu???
    you know, some people enjoy such stories. well, i happen to be like that. i completed the boo “guru of love ” in 15 hours.

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