21 September, 2020

Small-Town Snapshots

An ambitious first novel where the author's intentions overstretch her skills.

Small-Town Snapshots
Manjushree Thapa's debut novel about the politics and identity of a small town in Nepal has a certain compelling range and sweep of vision. Contemporary literature, especially with a social medium like the novel, gives voice to the aspirations of a society and articulates its doubts and confusions. Thapa writes about her complex and marginalised society with sincerity and authenticity. The characters are clearly defined, and come to life as the contours of the story unfold. Rishi Parajuli, the disillusioned and disenfranchised political activist who gives lessons in Nepalese history to uncaring students, effectively conveys the many contradictions in Nepal's polity. The other characters, such as the alcoholic chairman of the People's Party district committee, or long-suffering woman protagonist Binita Dahal, tend to become somewhat one-dimensional, but put together form a convincing tableau of small-town Nepal.

Yet, while the book communicates the flow and feel of local sentiments, there is a lazy, cliche-ridden feel to Thapa's language. This is an ambitious first novel where...


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