Valdosta Daily Times

Features

November 4, 2013

“Three Speakers from Nepal: VSU welcomes Apa Sherpa, Samrat Upadhyay, and Ubaraj Katawal”

(Continued)

VALDOSTA —

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Samrat Upahay’s world-class short stories first got him noticed by literary critics and his breakout collection Arresting God in Kathmandu features works that won him national attention. Mr. Upadhyay has lived in Ohio and Hawaii, where he got his graduate degree in creative writing, and now works at the University of Indiana.  One of the constant themes is Upadhay’s work is cross-cultural fiction and the clash between generations in the increasingly modernized major city of Nepal.  Kathmandu attracts third-world travel aficionados, spiritual seekers and New Age devotees out the yin-yang,ex-patriots working as teachers, journalists, and missionaries. This is a place where “$3.99 Five Hour Energy Shots” consists of a few radishes, a cup of rice, maybe a betel nut, a world where a harried woman’s niece barges into her home, dabbles in gossip, and snatches up an orange she’d been saving expressly for herself.
Upadhyay’s native city has entered the sphere of global high-capitalism and the scions of business own BWMs, major sugar factories and Honda dealerships.  Hundreds of world-class mountain-climbers make their pilgrimage through Kathmandu, often type-A millionaires who hire poor local sherpas to heave super-expensive survivalist gear and help them not to quickly become a corpse.  Stories about these men abound, as told by Jon Krakauer in Into Thin Air. Essentially, a freak storm can wipe out any team member.  Deaths occur on the way down, when euphoria gives way to exhaustion.  While scant mountain expeditions occur in the metropolitanized work of Samrat Upadhyay, lots of underdogs keep cropping up. He shines a beam of awareness onto the lives of the marginalized; these people dwell in a world known by tourists for colorful prayer flags, saffron and scarlet monk robes, but these impoverished often live in drab concrete apartment boxes, amid grey-brown poverty.  

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