Tracing the history of Nepali writers writing in English is difficult, but a tentative beginning can be identified. Sangita Swechcha writes: “Padma Jung Bahadur Rana Life of Maharaja Sir Jung Bahadur of Nepalan English biography of the first Prime Minister Rana, paved the way for future generations to venture into English.
A date cannot be established as authors may write in English sporadically and never be noticed. This only changed after the publication of Manjushree Thapa Mustang Bhot in fragments (1992) or The History Tutor (2001) or that of Samrat Upadhyay Stopg God in Kathmandu (2001), an anthology of short stories.
Delivering the keynote speech at the English Writers’ Conference in Nepal organized by the English Writers’ Village (VIEW) in Chitwan, Ammar Raj Joshi, Vice-Chancellor of Mid-Western University and English scholar, said : “What should be the right category for writings in English originally written by Nepalese writers? Should it be Nepali writers in English, Nepali writers in English, or English written by Nepali writers? The following speakers said that their works could be classified in any category, but what is more important is the emerging situation of Nepali writing in English and its global reach.
The publication of Thapa and Upadhyay’s books seems to have declared the entry of Nepali writers writing in English. In a review of Mustang Bhot in fragments Posted in Nascent Nepal, Durga Prasad Bhandari highlighted the advent of an excellent English writer in the Nepalese literary scene (Swechcha, 2019). When Samrat Upadhyay released his first book, Stop God in Kathmandu, it garnered good reviews and accolades. According to Amish Raj Mulmi, “Although literature in Nepal has a long history, the Nepali Script in English (NWE) did not gain international attention until the early 2000s, after the publication of At Manjushree Thapa The History Tutor and that of Samrat Upadhyay Stop God in Kathmandu.”
According to Padma Prasad Devkota, the youngest son of Laxmi Prasad Devkota, the Nepali script in English can be noticed in Laxmi Prasad Devkota’s two English books: Bapu and other sonnets and Shakuntalaoriginally written in English in the 1950s. According to Min Pun, “After Laxmi Prasad Devkota pioneered Nepali writing in English in the 1950s, Mani Dixit, Tek Bahadur Karki, Abhi Subedi, Padma Prasad Devkota, DB Gurung, Laxmi Devi Rajbhandari, Peter J Karthak, Rishikesh Upadhyaya and a few others continued to write in English from the 1960s to the 1980s.
Currently, we have many writers writing in English, and the publication of The bed, a literary magazine edited by Rabi Thapa, has contributed a lot to the writing of Nepalese in English. Mulmi writes: “Indian publishers like Speaking Tiger commission new works and publications like The bed and The record are doing all they can to encourage Nepali writing in English.
Recent publications of Nepali writing in English by young writers seem to contribute to Nepali writing in English. Some examples might be Rabi Thapa’s collection of short stories Nothing to report and its non-fiction Thamel: Dark Star of KathmanduPrawin Adhikari The disappearing actby Pranaya Rana The city of Dreamsby Shraddha Ghale Jhis capricious daughterand Greta Rana Hostage which were exceptionally well received. In addition to this, Prajwal Parajuly’s Land where I flee (2014) and Niranjan Kunwar Between queens and cities (2021) received excellent feedback. Between queens and cities, a non-fiction book, was able to bring into play the marginalized voice of a Nepalese homosexual, a new and fresh perspective.
These emerging Nepali writers in English will help literature cross linguistic, cultural and geographical boundaries and allow Nepali writings to enter the canons of Nepali writing in English. Sahitya Post (2020) writes, “Along with the proliferation of its theme and style, Nepali literature written in either language also has multifaceted purposes in its creation. Issues of ethnicity, socio-cultural structures, identity, roots and diaspora have become mainstream.
Emerging writers in English should be aware of criticism when writing in English and help Nepali English to travel the world and enter the canons of Nepali writing in English. In an interview with Tom Robertson, Ramesh Shrestha said, “If Indian English is acceptable, then why isn’t Nepali English, Nigerian English or Singaporean English?
This shows that we should allow Nepali writing in English to reach a wider audience, whether it is original English writing or Nepali English translation. Without being exotic, we must be honest in writing to bring unique and innovative content that carries the original sensibilities and idiosyncrasies that global market audiences crave. Speaking of emerging Nepali writers in English, the best English translations of the best Nepali writings are also equally important, and this will help literature cross linguistic, cultural and geographical boundaries.