THE LITERATURE AND CULTURE OF THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT (SOUTH ASIA)

Contemporary Nepali Literature: Fiction -- Postmodern Consciousness in the Contemporary Novel

Mukul Dahal (mukulnp@hotmail.com). Editor: Pen Himalaya (penhimalaya.netfirms.com)

This essay is part three of the author's "Contemporary Nepali Literature: A Bird's Eye View."

Today's Age is the age of unrestrained consciousness and endless experimentations. The world today is a globalize village. Human civilization has seen an unimaginable development of information technology and human consciousness has experienced unforeseen changes in spheres of various activities. The impact of this all is obviously apparent in contemporary Nepali novels There is a discrepancy between the new culture that has evolved out of new changes and the culture that has been in the society for long. A group of people are in favor of new techno-culture and another group of people are worried about their long standing indigenous culture. Shova Bhattarai's novel Antahin Anta (The Endless End) has been set against such mongrelized culture. Swapna Sammelan (An Assembly in a Dream) is another novel worth mentioning in this connection. This is quite a fresh attempt to erase boundaries of time and collect characters from history, from cultural anecdotes and religious books and depict them as the live characters of cyber village. Peter J Karthak's Pratyek Thau, Pryatyek Manchhe (Each Place: A Man), Taranath Sharma's Nepal Dekhi Americasamma (From Nepal to America), Saru Bhakta's Samaya Trasadi (Temporal Tragedy) and Tathakathit (So-Called) too bring to light this cultural displacement.

Deconstructing or rewriting of the successful novels in the past has been another trend. It is believed that a text is never complete. There are numerous gaps to be filled or there are numberless possibilities to develop it into a new form. This notion has come into play in the area of Nepali fiction. Krishna Dharabasi's Sharanarthee (Refugee) is one of the most successful novels to represent this trend. In Sharanarthee Krishna Dahrabasi has drawn a corpus of characters from various sources: characters of different novels and short stories, the writers themselves in the guise of fictitious characters, the charecters drawn from the society and fictitious charecters in true sense. An echo of Roland Barthes's declaration of the death of the author too is heard in it. The characters themselves are conscious that they are being written by the author. They meet and put question to the author. Apart from the play of the characters, there are other experiments too in it. Existence of plural genres in the same work is one of them. A reader comes across various genres in Sharanarthee. History, essay, story and interviews all appear there. Characters appear and disappear throughout the novel. The author has deliberately planned it in order to display Leela (a game). Krishna Dharabasi has become a major Leela writher since the literary movement Leela Lekhan (Leela Writing) was founded by Indra Bahadur Rai some decades ago. The movement uses a queer mixture of oriental philosophy and most recently developed literary theories and principles in other areas of knowledge. Dharabasi's another novel Aadha Baato (Half Way) has opened up new horizon of literary discourse. The volume can traditionally be called his autobiography but he has chosen to call it a novel. Aadha Baato is the story of his own life and the characters are all real people active members of society: poets, artists, politicians, teachers, professors, peasants, businessmen and so on.

A kind of pastiche art can be seen in Dhruba Chandra Gautam's Agnidatta+Agnidatta, one chivalric Agnidatta of the age of Chivalry and the other his modern incarnation. Dhruba Chandra Gautam's colossal output and ceaseless experimentation to come up with something new each time has placed him in the center stage of Nepali fiction. There is an ample blend of fact and fantasy in his novels. Banira Giri's Shabdateet saantanu (Santanu Beyond Words) is not in the prose fit for a novel as such. It is very much like a prose poem.

Nepali novelists are also attempting to explore and establish new centres. They no longer depict the stereotypic characters such as an ideal protagonist, a landlord, a bourgeoisie or a pretty damsel or a protagonist essentially from high caste group. People are not troubled by such elements but by the consumerized culture or some conscious dark force. Khagendra Sangraula's Junkiriko Sangeet (Music of the Fireflies) and Pradeep Nepal's Ekkaisau Shataabdiki Sumnima (Twenty First Century Sumnima ) seek to delve into such collapsing social institutions and emerging new values. Saru Bhakta's Paagal Basti (Lunatics' Colony), Taruni Kheti (Maid Farming), Samaya Trasadi and Chuli (The Peak) explore new centers.

Contemporary Nepali Literature: A Bird's Eye View


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Last Modified: 11 March 2004