‘Reading can change a person’s perspective on life’Amar Neupane on the importance of language and communication.
How did you first come to love books?
My love for books began even before I joined a formal school. I grew up listening to recitals of various religious texts. I loved hearing the verses of Swasthani. It had a great impact on me—it has all the emotional richness. I always cried when I heard Goma’s story. It was then I realised that books have such amazing knowledge and can create an impact on someone’s life.
What was the last book you read and did you like it?
The last book I read was Brazilian writer Paulo Coehlo’s Hippie, which is based on the hippie trails of Nepal. The novel did create some sort of an impact, but unfortunately, that impact wasn’t a long-lasting one.
What are the five books you read that you would recommend as must-reads?
I believe that the first and foremost text that everyone should read is the Mahabharata. It is the god of literature. It has all the elements that are needed for a reader to be thoroughly engaged. After reading Mahabharata, whatever you will read in the future may become tasteless and fall in comparison. The impact and the lesson it gives is something that you will cherish for the rest of your life.
I also enjoyed reading BP Koirala’s Sumnima. The story about a Brahmin boy torn between pursuing spiritual salvation and his attraction towards a girl has been put into words elegantly. Khalil Gibran is another writer that I am very fond of. I enjoyed reading Gibran’s The Prophet.
Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha based on Gautama Buddha’s life is a novel that I would read over and over again. And Ghumne Mech ma Andho Manche by Bhupi Sherchan is a gem for Nepali literature.
What books are currently on your wish-list?
There are a few books on Himalayan culture and tradition that I would want to read. I also have Shiva Puran on that list. I am also looking forward to reading Sanjeev Uprety’s novel Hansa.
Why do you think reading and writing is important?
In comparison to other living beings, we humans have a lot of power and that energy comes from being able to understand and communicate in a common language. Language isn’t just about verbal communication. Words help people become educated, it enhances their knowledge and makes them worldly. Even technological advancements are the products of human understanding of language. It can change a person’s perspectives on life completely.
What book has influenced you the most and why?
Like I said earlier, the most interesting and impactful book I have come across and read throughout my entire life is Mahabharata. No other book is a match to the historical saga. I also like books that are heavily inclined towards imagination and creativity. As a writer, it is important to do justice to each and every character and it should be able to play the strings of your heart, that's exactly what Mahabharata has done to me.
How do you draw inspiration for writing?
When I travel, I often make sure that I listen to people’s life stories and record their anecdotes. Listening to people and their incidents can always be exhilarating for writers to draw inspiration from.