A review by Shellie for: Buddha’s Orphans: a novel ~ by Samrat Upadhyay
A sweet contemporary tale of family love and social changes in Nepal, with a great cover.
About: Set in Nepal during the 1960’s and up until the near present, it’s a love story about two people – Raja and Nilu. Yet it feels like a family saga, with the two main characters telling their life’s tales with all their inevitable ups and downs
With a variety of nationalities living in Nepal, the two main characters are Nepalese and of middle class standing. Having known each other since childhood they fall in love and are linked by their religious belief in past life attachments. It is set during a period when the small country is attempting to move towards a more democratic government, rather than the monarchy which has been in place for centuries, so the backdrop is one of change, ensuing difficulties, complexities, and political and social uprisings.
Thoughts: I enjoyed this sweet novel and liked that it gave me a picture of this special area located at the bottom of the Himalayan mountains. It speaks of the poverty and the racial tensions between the Nepalese and India’s natives – with the lingering and archaic caste system and repression of women; which are still very prevalent. It also covers the complicated political changes which have occurred over the past 60 years.
The two lovers are progressive and have a modern view of life, with Raja actually taking part in some of the political demonstrations. This is not the case with all the characters; many have a very stagnant perspective. We read about the poverty, the lack of amenities which most of us take for granted, and we see that their lives share some similarities with our own in the Western world, although obviously they are very different in so many ways.
I liked that the author has an accessible writing style and enjoyed this literary novel. I would recommend it for anyone interested in a contemporary historical fiction story about the area. I give this novel 3 stars. It was a very readable book, and the cover is so simple, yet elegant, and gives insight into the culture which is not readily apparent.
Amazon links for US/UK/Canada; Hardcover: 448 pages; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st edition (July 14, 2010) For more information on this book please see Layers of Thought’s preview for the Buddha’s Orphans.
This book will be included in The Basics and the New Author Challenge.
Thanks for reading!