Amar Neupane is a well-known Nepali writer and novelist, mostly known for his book ‘Seto Dharti’, published in 2012, for which he was awarded the ‘Madan Puraskar’, the highest honor in the field of Nepali literature. ‘Paniko Gham’, ‘Karodaun Kasturi’ and ‘Gulabi Umer’ are some of his other notable works. Slesha Adhikari from ApEx talked to Neupane to know more about what inspires him to write.
How did you start writing?
I have been passionate about writing since I was a child, although it took me a while to realize that. I was one of those kids who sat with the villagers and listened to the stories they had to share and would make them listen to the stories I wrote during my own sweet time. I used to have separate copies for my poems, stories, and essays, which already says a lot about my passion for writing. My father also used to write a lot of stories, which I loved to read. That made me want to explore writing, even though I was shy about making my work public. It took a while, but I got over it and became a published writer. I’m glad because writing is what I live for. Better late than never, right?
What inspires you to write and tell the kind of stories that you do?
I’m quite observant of what happens in Nepali society, which is what my work is inspired from ever since I first started writing. For instance, Seto Dharti tries to show the bitter reality of our society, and how much a woman has to suffer because of the ill-practices we still follow. The book is inspired from the life of my grandmother, who got married at the age of nine, and lost her husband at the age of 11. After she passed away, it got me thinking about the struggles she had to face as a child. It’s the same with my other book ‘Paniko Gham’. I worked as a teacher in Nepalgunj for two months, and that is where I decided to get started on this book. It reflects on the socio-economic lifestyle of people living in Nepalgunj.
Which is the best book you have read so far?
There are a lot of books that I love that have inspired me in one way or another. Honestly, picking one from that list isn’t easy, but if I had to choose one, I would have to say ‘Sumnima’ by B.P. Koirala. It’s a beautifully written novel, and I don’t think I will ever get tired of reading it.
What books would you like to recommend for Nepali reader?
Without a doubt, the first book I would recommend is ‘Sumnima’ by B.P. Koirala. There are a few others that have influenced me in the past, and I think those are some good reads too. They are ‘Tarun Tapaswi’ by Lekhnath Paudyal, ‘Laxmi Nibandha Sangraha’ by Laxmi Prasad Devkota, ‘Lamppost Bata Khaseko Jun’ by Manu Manjil, and ‘Muffler’ by Pradip Rodan. I think anyone interested in Nepali literature will enjoy reading these books.
What, in your opinion, will it take to keep youths interested in reading Nepali literature?
Firstly, it’s important to know what the younger generation is looking for in a book. And for that, it’s up to the writers to understand the psychology of youths and what they want to read. Secondly, they need to find the writings relatable or influential.
In the case of my books, I think Karodaun Kasturi and Gulabi Umer are the ones that match their interests. Karodaun Kasturi is a fictional novel on what might have happened if Hari Bansha Acharya, a Nepali comic, had not discovered his talent as a comedian. It gives a simple yet powerful message: to figure out your passion before it’s too late, and that everyone has a unique hidden talent waiting to be discovered. Similarly, Gulabi Umer is based on the psychology of teenagers between the age of 13 and 16, which I think is relatable not just to youths but anyone who has gone through their teenage years.
When can we expect your new book?
I’m currently working on a book, the theme of which is somewhat similar to that of Seto Dharti. I want to give any spoilers. I would rather build up the anticipation. All I can say is the book will be out soon.