A selection of TripFiction’s Top Reads 2020
Five great books set in NEPAL
31st May 2020
Nepal is the latest place for us to visit in our ‘Great books set in…’ series. Five Great Books set in Nepal.
‘Heaven is a myth. Nepal is real’.
‘Namaste. It was a Nepalese greeting. It meant: The light within me bows to the light within you’ – Jennifer Donnelly
The Tutor of History by Manjushree Thapa
The Tutor of History is an ambitious social saga, a compelling tale of idealism, love and alienation, set in contemporary Nepal caught between tradition and modernity. The events of the novel unfold against the backdrop of a campaign for parliamentary elections in the bustling roadside town of Khaireni Tar.
At its heart the book is about four main characters: Giridhar Adhikari, the chairman of the People’s Party’s district committee, who suffers from a serious alcohol addiction and strange, violent manias; Rishi Parajuli, a lonely, under-employed bachelor and disillusioned communist who gives private tuitions in history to disinterested middle-class boys; Om Gurung, a former British Gurkha determined to bring love into every life in his hometown; and Binita Dahal, a reclusive young widow who runs a small tea shop and is careful not to demand of life more than the meagre pleasures it brings her.
As the election campaign reaches its peak, the crisis in each character’s life mounts, and the eventual rigging of the elections becomes a metaphor for the flawed, imperfect choices that ordinary people must make to get by in a world beyond their control.
A significant new voice from the Subcontinent. The first major novel in English to emerge from Nepal.
The Royal Ghosts by Samrat Upadhyay
With emotional precision and narrative subtlety, The Royal Ghosts features characters trying to reconcile their true desires with the forces at work in Nepali society. Against the backdrop of the violent Maoist insurgencies that have claimed thousands of lives, these characters struggle with their duties to their aging parents, an oppressive caste system, and the complexities of arranged marriage. In the end, they manage to find peace and connection, often where they least expect it— with the people directly in front of them.
These stories brilliantly examine not only Kathmandu during a time of political crisis and cultural transformation but also the effects of that city on the individual consciousness.
Down and Out in Kathmandu by Jennifer S Alderson
Overworked computer programmer Zelda Richardson is teetering on the edge of burnout.
Inspired by a girlfriend’s trip around the world, she leaves her life in Seattle, Washington, buys a backpack and flies to Kathmandu as a volunteer English teacher – determined to make a difference and find herself whilst doing it.
She can’t wait to immerse herself in Nepalese life but is overwhelmed and alienated by its foreignness. Despite the power outages, lack of running water and difficulty in learning the language, she sticks it out, wanting to prove – mainly to herself – she can survive without the luxuries of home.
One distraction is the charming Ian, the sexy Australian backpacker whom she gets to know on arriving in Nepal. When her students laugh her out of the classroom and the headmaster publicly humiliates her, Zelda flees to the tourist district of Thamel to drown her sorrows with Ian.
What follows is every traveler’s nightmare as they find themselves entangled with an international gang of smugglers who believe Ian and Zelda have stolen their diamonds.
Can Zelda find a way to get the smugglers off their backs and her Nepalese students to respect her, before her time in Kathmandu is over…?
House of Snow by Ranulph Fiennes
In 2015, Sagarmatha frowned. Tectonic plates moved. A deadly earthquake devastated Nepal.
In the wake of disaster, House of Snow brings together over 50 excerpts of fiction and non-fiction celebrating the breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage of this fascinating country. Here are explorers and mountaineers, poets and political journalists, national treasures and international celebrities. Featuring a diverse cast of writers such as Michael Palin and Jon Krakauer, Lakshm pr sad Devko and Lil Bahadur Chettri, all hand-picked by well-known authors and scholars of Nepali literature including Samrat Upadhyay, Michael Hutt, Isabella Tree and Thomas Bell. House of Snow is the biggest, most comprehensive and most beautiful collection of writing about Nepal in print.
(All profits from the sales of this book will be donated to the Pahar Trust Nepal to fund earthquake relief projects).
Annapurna: A Woman’s Place by Arlene Blum
In August 1978, thirteen women left San Francisco for the Nepal Himalaya to make history as the first Americans—and the first women—to scale the treacherous slopes of Annapurna I, the world’s tenth highest peak. Expedition leader Arlene Blum here tells their dramatic story: the logistical problems, storms, and hazardous ice climbing; the conflicts and reconciliations within the team; the terror of avalanches that threatened to sweep away camps and climbers.
On October 15, two women and two Sherpas at last stood on the summit—but the celebration was cut short, for two days later, the two women of the second summit team fell to their deaths.
Never before has such an account of mountaineering triumph and tragedy been told from a woman’s point of view. By proving that women had the skill, strength, and courage necessary to make this difficult and dangerous climb, the 1978 Women’s Himalayan Expedition’s accomplishment had a positive impact around the world, changing perceptions about women’s abilities in sports and other arenas. And Annapurna: A Woman’s Place has become an acknowledged classic in the annals of women’s achievements—a story of challenge and commitment told with passion, humour, and unflinching honesty.
Which is your top title to transport you to Nepal? Do tell us in the comments below! And if you fancy more reads set in this beautiful part of the world, then just access the Tripfiction database
Andrew for the TripFiction Team
Join team TripFiction on Social Media: