Understanding language and literatureNepal-born Canadian author Manjushree Thapa shared her experience of learning and translating Nepali literature, and its influence on her works, at a talk titled ‘(Almost) Everything I’ve Learned About Nepali Literature is Wrong’ organised by Martin Chautari at its premises in Thapathali on December 27.
Nepal-born Canadian author Manjushree Thapa shared her experience of learning and translating Nepali literature, and its influence on her works, at a talk titled ‘(Almost) Everything I’ve Learned About Nepali Literature is Wrong’ organised by Martin Chautari at its premises in Thapathali on December 27.
Thapa—the author of a number of fiction and non-fiction books, most recently the novel All of Us in Our Own Lives—is a celebrated English language writer who has also translated three books from the Nepali language into English.
Drawing on her own experiences in Canada and abroad, Thapa shared insights on the global perception of Nepali language literature, especially in north-eastern India which hosts a large community of Nepali speakers.
“The Nepali language has been recognised by the constitution of India as one of its national languages and its north-eastern region has contributed some quality literature,” Thapa said, emphasising the contributions of Indra Bahadur Rai, whose book Aaja Ramita Chha was translated by Thapa in 2017 as There is a carnival today. She also shed light on the contributions of the Sudhapa trio—Surya Bikram Gyawali, Dharanidhar Koirala and Paras Mani Pradhan—in naturalising the Nepali language and Bairagi Kainla’s pivotal role in revolutionising the third dimension (‘Tesro Aayam’).
Besides the history and dimensions of the Nepali language, Thapa commented on the significant growth of a reading culture in Nepal. “I used to be one of the very few ones from Nepal in the English literary world,” she said. “I am happy to see the growth.”
While Nepali is the mother tongue of around 45 percent of the country’s total population, it is the lingua franca of a much larger group. However, Nepali literature has to be defined beyond the usage of Nepali language, said Thapa. “It took me 15 years to understand the difference between Nepali literature and literature from Nepal,” she said.
Thapa also expressed the necessity of simplifying Nepali language in order to reach a larger audience. According to her, between creative writers and academicians, the latter rarely support the simplification of Nepali.
Thapa’s talk was followed by a question-answer session where she responded to queries ranging from the prevalence of dialects to the promotion of different languages of Nepal.