22 June, 2021

Paupers At The Banquet

Eerily well-timed expose of its monarchy and polity, but where does Nepal go from here?

T. Narayan
Paupers At The Banquet
Manjushree Thapa describes her book modestly as a "mongrel of historiography...and travel writing, a book on bad politics". But her account will have a deep resonance both inside and out of Nepal, especially now after the "coup within a coup" effected by King Gyanendra on February 1, when he made his intentions clear by dismissing the government, declaring an emergency, censoring freedoms and assuming full powers himself.

Forget Kathmandu is essentially a cri de coeur from a sensitive young Nepalese as she watches her country slide downhill, as violence spreads, governance fails, institutions collapse, politicians squabble, democracy is strangulated, values disappear, hope fades. It is a well-written book—fast-paced, hard to put down, written with style and sophistication, also honesty and emotion.

The author has spared no one—politicians whether of the extreme left or extreme right, veteran freedom-fighters, Maoist insurgents, civil society ("we, the bourgeoisie")—in her account of the multi-faceted crisis that grips her country today. She is especially...

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