02 August, 2021

Ready Wings

Thapa has a light touch and maintains an admirable balance between telling a story and making socio-cultural observations

Ready Wings

In the opening pages, Prema, a young Nepali living in the US, is asked where she’s from. She tries explaining: “‘It is near India’, or ‘Where Mt Everest is’, or ‘You’ve heard of the Sherpas?’, so that they might say, ‘Geez, that’s real far’, or ‘I could have sworn you were Mexican/ Italian/Spanish’, or ‘You speak good English.’” In this efficient, endearingly familiar way, second-time novelist Manjushree Thapa introduces us to a story about displacement, self-definition and one South Asian woman’s search for fulfilment.

Prema’s story starts in a small village near Kathmandu, ascending quickly through the loss of her mother in childhood and the commonplace hardships of poverty, to a college degree in forestry, resulting in a job with an NGO. Secondary plot-lines include a younger sister who runs off with Maoist rebels when they come calling, an anaemic romance with a fellow NGO worker and a stoic, undemanding father who only...

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