On June 2001, King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah was killed in a massacre at Kathmandu’s Narayanhiti royal palace, allegedly by his own son, the crown prince, and the world took new notice of Nepal. Since then, several thousand lives have been lost to a violent Maoist insurgency and repressive state counter-insurgency. Parliamentary democracy, too—won late, in I 990—has been lost. And there are no clear indications of how long it will be before the civil war ends and popular government is restored.
In this illuminating study of the tangled politics of her country, Manjushree Thapa examines what has gone wrong, and why. Starting with an account of the Narayanhiti massacre and its aftermath, she goes back in time to trace the history, often chaotic, of Nepal’s monarchy since unification in the 18th century, and of the struggle, in the
20th century, for genuine democracy. She ends with a record of her trek into Maoist-held territories in west Nepal, where the majority continue to live in poverty; human rights abuses are on the rise, and boys and girls as young as thirteen have taken to the gun.
A skilful mix of history, reportage, memoir and travel writing, Forget Kathmandu is an unprecedented examination of Nepal’s past and present. The gifts of insight and lucidity that Thapa brings to her intensely political narrative make this one of the finest works of non-fiction from the subcontinent in recent times.
Manjushree Thapa is the author of the widely acclaimed novel The Tutor of History. Her other published works include a travelogue, Mustang Shot in Fragments, and translations of Nepali literature. Her essays and short stories have appeared in several anthologies, journals and magazines in Nepal, India and USA.
Manjushree Thapa lives in Kathmandu, where she helps to manage Martin Chautari, a centre for public interest and advocacy.
Number of Pages: 260