Palpasa Cafe and Nepali Book Reading Habit

Images and ‘soundbites’ from the book signing program that we saw rarely in Nepali book world. Star of the moment was Narayan Wagle, awardwinning writer of debut novel Palpasa Cafe.

By Dinesh Wagle

As he reached the stall of Educational Book House in the Book Fair at Bhrikutimandap immediately after landing at Kathmandu airport from a week long trip to Finland and Russia, journalist/writer Narayan Wagle was surrounded by a group of fans. Everyone in the crowd had a copy of Wagle’s award winning debut novel Palpasa Café and they wanted the writer to sign the book. They also wanted to share their views of the book with the fiction writer.

The success of Palpasa Cafe the noble by Narayan Wagle signals a change in Nepali book reading habit

Many of the readers present in the Palpasa Café signing ceremony were young and girls. For many of them, Palpasa Café was the first Nepali book (other than those included in school and university course) that they had read. “Oh…there are so many English books that I have read,” Mona Sherpa, who received Narayan Wagle’s autograph in her copy of Palpasa Café, said. “It’s impossible to name all of them now. But this is the first Nepali book I have read and I like it very much.”

Why she liked the book? “Read the book from anywhere and you will find a new story. They all come together at last and link with eachother. Description daami chha (description is superb.).” Mona’s friend Aprajita, who read Palpasa Café as the first Nepali literary creation, was standing nearby and was ready give her verdict on the book. “Story of our times,” said Aprajita (right in the pic above) who recently finished reading D. H. Lawrence’s Woman in Love. “My parents recommended Palpasa Café to me a few months ago. Initially, I was hesitant about reading it as I considered it as just another Nepali book. But as I started reading, found it very interesting.” Mona said that Palpasa Café has encouraged her to read other Nepali books as well.

The success of Palpasa Cafe the noble by Narayan Wagle signals a change in Nepali book reading habit

It won’t be a biased opinion to say that we don’t have very good habit of reading books in Nepal for various reasons. One of them is the availability of quality child literature in Nepali. The other is obviously the financial problem; students can’t afford to by books that are out of school or university course. Plus, students are not encouraged to read out-of-course books by their teachers and parents and libraries with rich collection of books are not that much in many parts of the country.

The success of Palpasa Cafe the noble by Narayan Wagle signals a change in Nepali book reading habit

Some books successfully grab peoples’ attention and generate talks among them. When everyone starts talking about a book, friends feel the pressure and they tend to buy and read the book immediately. I saw the same situation when Samraty Upadhayay’s Arresting God in Kathmandu was released in Nepali market. It was a fashion statement of sort to let people know proudly that you had read the book and start talking about the creation. The same is happening with Palpasa Café now and people who are not reading the book are already feeling lagging behind in socializing events.

The success of Palpasa Cafe the noble by Narayan Wagle signals a change in Nepali book reading habit

The girl on the right, Swechha Shrestha, said that she was impressed by the book and wanted to have signature of Narayan Wagle in her copy. “The book is about present condition of the country,” she said. “I am fascinated by Drishya (the main character).” All members in her family, Swechha said, have read the book. “My mother also liked the book very much,” she said. “My mother felt that the language is good compared other Nepali writers.” Her two friends (all three are students of CA Foundation Level in Chartered Academics International) who were in the signing program said that they learned the story of Palpasa Café from Swechha.

The success of Palpasa Cafe the noble by Narayan Wagle signals a change in Nepali book reading habit

A FM radio journalist interviews two readers of Palpasa Café (Arpana Pokharel, left, and Ruju Parajuli) who were in the program to have their copies of the books signed by the novelist.

The success of Palpasa Cafe the noble by Narayan Wagle signals a change in Nepali book reading habit

This is an artist’s impression of Palpasa, the central character of Palpasa Café. The artist and reader of Palpasa Café was present in the signing program with the portrait. The artist is Mona Pokhrel, a Masters level student of Microbiology in a Kathmandu college. “I first heard the story of Palpasa Café in HBC FM (that has been serializing the story),” Mona said. “I emailed Narayan Wagle urging him to write a sequel to the book reviving the characters of Palpasa and Drishya.” After she received a reply from the author said that ‘books are meant to be read, not just to be listened on a radio’ she bought the book and finished reading it in almost six hours. From 8:56 PM to 3:01 AM. “Now I think there is no need to revive those characters,” she said. She has also drawn a portrait of the couple- Drishya and Palpasa.

The success of Palpasa Cafe the noble by Narayan Wagle signals a change in Nepali book reading habit

He is Krishna Kandel, 20-year-old student of B Sc in Trichandra Campus. He read Palpasa Café three months ago after one of his friends recommended the book to him. “The story is contemporary and I found the book better than how my friend described to me,” he said after receiving a signature from Narayan Wagle on his t-shirt. “Now I will put this t-shirt safely in my room,” Krishna said.

The success of Palpasa Cafe the noble by Narayan Wagle signals a change in Nepali book reading habit

Anjan Bahadur Shrestha, (middle, wearing a Palpasa Café t-shirt) the owner of Educational Book House, started last year the tradition of book signing programs by invited writers who have recently published their books in the book exhibition. Celebrated writers Samrat Upadhaya (Arresting God in Kathmandu, Guru of Love and The Royal Ghost) and Karna Shakya (Soch) were the guests last year. Narayan Wagle and Manju Shree Thapa (Tutor of History and Forgot Kathmandu) attended this year’s program. Another book shop also organized similar program this year in which singer Raamesh, writers Narayan Dhakal and Bimal Niva signed on their books and albums. Shrestha said that he will be inviting Samrat this year to promote The Royal Ghost that has sold more than 15 hundred copies in a week from his shop alone.

The success of Palpasa Cafe the noble by Narayan Wagle signals a change in Nepali book reading habit

Rajeshwor Devkota, a conservative royalist politician and a well known literary personality, was also seen in the signing in ceremony. “I have read Palpasa Café,” he said. “It’s a very good book.” He was looking for a copy of international bestseller The Da Vinci Code. “I have been looking for that book for the last several weeks,” he said. “I really want to read that.” Devkota asked for the book and, considering the occasion and his personality perhaps, the book stall didn’t accept the payment and provide the book as complementary.

Related link:
1. Kantipur news on the event

Published by UWB

Pioneering blog from Nepal...since 2004.

58 thoughts on “Palpasa Cafe and Nepali Book Reading Habit

  1. Very encouraging event in the field of literature. Just wanted to point out that the guy in one of the pictures above got his shirt signed, not his t-shirt.

  2. Absolutely disgusting advertisement of Palpase cafe. Palpasa cafe is a lousy book, and has earned success out of advertisement and through the kantipur connections. It’s 1/10 for literary value. And oh, these guys still keep advertisisng for their boss!!! Shame on you!!

  3. yeh,
    no one san deny the fact that Palpasa Cafe is one of the rescent books in the field of Nepalese literature…..Eagle has done a great job……the way he has sketched the character named Siffhartha and the love between Siddhartha and Mona is simply superb,…and hats off for that…..yu roc Mr. Wagle
    bhai harkey

  4. I’m happy to see Aprajeeta on the pic after a long time and am equally pleased to learn that Palpasa Cafe is becoming a bestseller (infact it already is).. Keep it up Mr. Wagley.. You really are a maestro in Nepali literature as well as a sagacious writer..

  5. So, the blogger has no time to publish the most impotant news of the day???? – the corrupt journalists. The scandle??

    Why so late? Why should people trust in the crappy things you guys write???

  6. Hello Mr. Photographer,

    Were there only young girls in the book fair? Or is it that Palpasa Cafe is very unpopular among younng boys (unlike young girls)? Or is it that you were there hunting for chicks?

    UWB: Howard Roark,

    It seems you have some serious vision related problems. Please have a look, if you can, again to the photos above. You will find people who are not just “young girls in the book fair.”

  7. hehehe….
    had this blog entry been a political analysis or a commentary, there would have been a deluge of comments by now probably in thousands (figuratively), but since it is about Nepali literature, no one has much to say and that reflects the sorry state of our reading habit.

    Let’s take a liberal guess that one hundred thousand (ek lakh) people have read this book, not going by the sales (that would be too dismal and discouraging for any Nepali writers) but presuming that once bought, it has changed many hands and many many Nepalis checked out of libraries.

    That means only 0.37% of the total population have read this book, which means in every ten thousand only 37 have read the book.

    There could be two reasons for this:

    1. May be the price is astronomical and people can afford to buy it.

    2. Simply we Nepali don’t have a reading habit.

    Personally I would like to see the cheaper version of the book in the market then may be the readership will soar up and Mr. Wagle can boast by the number too (monetary as well as adulation too).

  8. I really missed to see wagle in the book fare.But I am waiting his 2nd novel. But this time writer isnot announcing about his novel like the first.The large no. of fans really create a pressure to wagle for next novel. This is a good sign. I think palpasa writer is preparing for a next superhit novel, but not decided when to release it.

  9. The success of Palpasa Cafe and Narayan Wagle is the success of propaganda. It shows how you can brainwash people if you have monopoly over mass media. You see, only those teenagers are mainly attracted who have not any ided about nepali literature. misguided teens!!!

  10. Anarchy and tyranny are trite when media becomes bias. When media starts serving its boss and makes propaganda out of ingratiating someone who is in a position to control the media is a treachery not less than absolutism.

    I am not biased to literature, I like literature. But tell me frankly the value of Palpasa Café – does it have any idea about addressing the problems of Nepalese society? Does it have any vision on eradicating poverty? Does it speak about inequality? Does it speak about discrimination? Does it give any idea to solve the political division and obsession in the country, which is the root cause of all political evils? Does it have any vision on development? A society is not meant for story of café and relation between a boy and girl.

    It has been projected as one of the best ever written literature in the Nepalese society, which is completely untrue. A best literature should talk about society and the problems of society. It should give thought to address the problems of society. It should reorient young people and their enthusiasm for betterment of society. None of them is in the Palpasa Café. Kantipur media is abusing its media power and might.

    First, Kantipur should learn role of media in a democratic society. It must learn democratic values. I have found no difference between Kantipur and King Gyanendra in attitude and manner.

    Second, most disappointing is the fact that a hopeless book has been projected like an avatar. Nonetheless, it gives a picture that where our society is standing and the awareness of our society. It reminds me the eighteenth centuries’ society, where novel are considered most readable matters. A society that promises for development, growth and progress preserves literature but emphasizes on development thinking. Had there not been Kantipur the Palpasa Café would have been unknown to all those who are now seen in the photographs. Why Kantipur does not bring in forefront a person who has written a most impressive poem about bise nagarchi ?

    Third, let us not mesmerize society. Don’t foul media power. Believe in fair and healthy journalism. Don’t ingratiate power and boss. Allow thought to come out. Respect ideas of people. Don’t kill different opinions. Tolerate opinions. Be objective. I am not preaching but this is must for Kantipur, otherwise the day comes it will be projected one of the most biased media and an enemy of democracy in the country. I completely agree with Ram Thapa. The activities of Kantipur on Palpasa Cafe are a misguide to the young Nepalese brain.

  11. hi wagle jr.

    pls count how many times u have reported on/about palpas cafe of wagle sr. the topic reading habbit is of very much interest to me though i myself have never been a bookworm. however after reading about palpasa cafe umpteenth times i just couldn’t scroll through the lines. palpas cafe in the title had an adverse impact on me.

    i’ve read palpasa cafe and i read it with interest. i like the way wagle sr. writes. his language is simple yet lucid. i’m sure wagle’s novel will be remembered long for its recordsetting sell–its a best seller. but like many of the best seller books or novels by the likes of s. sheldon or m. crighton, it won’t be remembered for its own literary merit.

  12. what a democratic platform for everyone to have their say. My assumption is that many of you who dont like Wagle ji are commenting on the book without reading it…..

  13. I am suprised why have this Harkey written love between Siddhartha and Mona? How come Mona in the story?

  14. ‘aawashyakta vanda badi charcha payeko pustak kun ho?’

    On this question, a writer answered-“Nepalma aawasyakta jati ta charcha hudaina badi ko ta k kura.”

    I also agree that Palpasa cafe has got lot of charcha that some better creations in Nepal has not.
    But the answer is not to make Palpasa charcha less but make more charcha of the more deserving ones.

    We really have to work to elevate the standard of Nepali writing, in commercial market too.

  15. What can you say about a so called awardwining novel writer who puts commercial advertisement in newspapers and magazines for publicity? You get quality of the book after reading couple of pages. Shame on you writer and appreciator of this bogus book.

  16. well well well,

    i also have read that book “pulpasha cafe”. it is a good book but not good as it really is being advertised. i dont know why but you know,i found this book “khallo”. like “nun bina ko tarkari”.
    yes, i like his view against war but at some cases i found him biassed. once the main character says that his friend is student leader and also tells that he is inspired by him! how come? if you are against revolution then how can another be inspired by you to make a revolution? his also says that he is inspired by main character and also says that he also says that the picture is not that revolutionary!!!

    and again, the main character says that he stole his fathers money and the “gothalo” was beaten for that. but Waglae has ended that character right there. he says that that “gothalo” went to India. I think that “gothalo” should have made maoist.

    i dont want to make my comment long. so i’d just like to say the another wagle to point out his mistakes also. you are praising a lot.”dherai maha khayao bhanae tito hunchha”. same thing has happened in this books case. i read it and i found people praising a lot about it. i have read a lot of english as well as nepali books, but when i read that book i didn’t find that book so great as it is advertised.

    it is just another book. think about it. read that comment it. anyway, this book is also not bad. it is good. but just don’t go make waglae with some kind of “only nepali writer”. there are lot others also. why don’t you write about them? why are there no any discussions and advertisements aobut those books ? i guess u know what i mean. i think there is a bit media power in it.

    i wish to publish book when i am in media .!!!. especially “sampadak”.

  17. ok…a must read book of this time. its better to spend some money in buying this book rather than buying some english fictions….well hats off for your work Mr.Wagle.
    keep up the theme

  18. The owners of will be history as soon as the other guy comes out…. these folks have stories and pictures becuase they are run by the largest newspapers in Nepal and they have everything ready!

    There are other good newspapers in Nepal and we have even better reporters than WAGLEY family. They have yet to get hold of the good esources. When they come out, you guys will be pushed out.

    So don’t to acting like you guys run the country or it’s media.

    It’s just a blog.

  19. Many of the people who signed the books where young and girls? Good job WAGLES Have a lot of them in your homes………..

  20. Hey Bloggers
    I found the sketch of palpsa that Mona had done exactly the same that is in my mind. But you guys were so unfair that you projected the sketch in that way.The picture is not immerging out of the background and that’s the defect of the photographer.And i wonder why have you guys not taken the snap of Mona herself?
    I am eager to see her and meet her personally. She made palpsa beautiful so she herself must be beautuful. I am saying this n i mean… not the skin but honestly her soul.I even looked for kathmandu college but where the hell is this? I could not find it anywhere.So….guys can you kindly give me her full address or any information regarding her?

  21. khoi afu ta padako pani chaina
    tara halla sunda ma ramrai hola jasto cha
    tara ek choti paddai ma kehi bigrane wala chaia chaina

  22. Yeah, I thought whole night how late i was! I get this book through my friend. And finished it with in 4hrs. My God ! I have to appreciate his power of though. The word power of the novel are not strong and literature. But the character’s of his dream and much strong. We can see overall grief of all nepali especially the victims of the conflicts. the starting of the story is with metaphor. Lovely starting of the story with the main character PALPASA and the artist. Lots of good phenomenon we can get from the conversation of both of them. It was tearing me when the bomb was over the little girl.

    I think when writing of this way the wagle might be full with tear. In aggregate There are lots of hurt touching sequences in the story. The reation between the artist and drisya is impressive. The ending of the story is not reasonable. The ending of the story is making us sad sad sad and sad. Any i see the writer who is shining in the field of literacy. One thing due to more and more busyness in his work how and when he the time and create this great one.

    Wishing him a very good luck. and Waiting patiently for his forthcoming book.



  23. palpasa cafe is a great achivement for the nepali literature. due to its distinct subject matter and due to the excellent way of expressing inner feelings, it is being popular day by day. concept of postmordanism is practiclly done by Nrayan wagle. he come as a hurrican in the Nepaliliterature. he has more potentiallity in this field. Jooina of Rashmisekhar, palpasa cafe and Himalpari puge pachi of pratik dhakal are the recent achivement by nepali literature of great value.

  24. Well, I did not have a chance to read the book “Palpasa cafe” but heard a lot about it ,may be in a near future I will definitely read it and I will comment it , then.

  25. well, i completed Palpasa Cafe (nepali version) last week. It is the only book i have completed in a single episode.
    Though there were lots of ‘easy descriptions’ of ‘big’ things, i liked the book.
    (fell in love with palpasa ;))

  26. “Himal Pari Puge Pachhi ” by Prateek Dhakal is the master piece. Four editions in TEN months is not a joke , when we look the tendencies of Nepalese readership. Everyone has to read this book to enhance his/her inner seight and to encounter with a real nature and its habitants. I read the English version “Beyond the Himalayas.”

  27. You’re right Linda, I ‘ve also read that’s really great.

    Manoj Shrestha.

  28. me a medical student at “KATHMANDU MEDICAL COLLEGE”,just having 10 days breaks for my exams.
    I was tired of studying course books.Now i am really refreshed after completing “palpasa cafe”,and want to comment,that was really a superb

  29. me Nawaraj is Student of Kailashkut multiple college of Chabahil. I like it very much and I want to provide to Narayan Jee Congratulation and wish you all the best. I hope that Narayan Jee, you always do best in your literature field and journalism.

    Thank you Very much

  30. Its a very heart touching story revealing the fact about many aspects of our society and also it is a well interpreted post war story and i would like to compare this with siris ko phool of parijat

  31. I bought Pulpasa Cafe in english version to send the copy to a friend . I read first 4 chapters, i was very very disappointed. it’s definitely a cheap type of love story chapter , and then i tried to continue. it’s better and quite interesting after that love chapter in Goa. But nobody mentioned that the english version is very badly translated. i even coudn’t finish the hole book. I know i should read in nepali origininal version. I’ll buy it in it’s original version someday. I don’t uderstand why they published such a bad version of Pulpasa Cafe translated in English, it was just to make business, on the occasion?

  32. In fact, I think Palpasa has been the most indulging reading in Nepali language to me. It portrays the life of the urban upper-middle class Nepali society absolutely overlooked by all Nepali writers – that was one thing that I really found fresh.

    Chapter 15 is the most captivating one, I almsot cried reading that particular chapter. But the epilogue fails to convince me.

    And like some commentators said, the opening chapters (the love story is lousy) but once the story advances and goes to the village – it shows well what a good story means.

    Kudos to Narayan Wagle.

  33. Wonderful book and kudos to Narayan Wagle. Now if anybody want to read a good poetry book then follow this link.

    “Our Nepal, Our Pride,” : A poety book of Bhuwan Thapaliya

    All the best to Narayan Wagle. The english version is crapy for sure but the nepali version is rock solid.

  34. Rohit

    do you have a link for “Palpasa Cafe’ too? if not, would you mind supplying me a copy? or anybody wish to borrow me ?


  35. i just got my hands on the book and read it complete in one sit. this is a very very decent book and has introduced a new field of literature in Nepalese litreture. ?? ????? ????? ??? ?? ??? ?????? ? ????????? ??????? ?? ????? ??? ?????????? ?? ????? ????? ???? ? ??????? ??? ?? ???? ????????? ?????? ???? ???????? ? ??????? ???? ??????? ?????? ???? ??? ??? ?? ?????? ????? – ????? ???? ??? ?? blog ????? ???? ????? ? ???? ??????? ?? ??????? booker prize ????? ???? ? Mr. Wagle Keep your good works up.. hope to see your new creation soon.

  36. Palpasa Cafe is a pioneering Nepali novel in Nepali literature.It’s emergence gave new wave of freshness in stale Nepali literature.The novel is a love story based on the poliitical background of Nepal at the time of People’s War..Young readers were fascinated to grab it and enjoy Nepali book.

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  38. ‘palpasa cafe’………… always after reading every paragraph, always after talking about this book, breath becomes restless… without doubt it is a fiction from real nepal and real nepal in fiction.
    palpasa cafe the only nepali book i could talk about with my friends, and after the english Edition the only book i can gift to my friends.
    with proud. now there are some others and we always welcome them.

  39. One of the best book in mine life! You know I just want to complete this before starting the course books of mine level! It has such a magic that once you go through the book, you would fall in love with it. Simply, Lots of love to Palpasa Cafe!!!!!

  40. i just wanna say wow for da book “palpasa cafe” really heart touching story, unspoken love story but d ending is very sad makes me cry 😥 😥

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