Tripty Chaudhari gives an account of the London launch of The Gurkha’s Daughter by Prajwal Parajuly
No other writer from northeast India has managed to put the region on the international map the way Prajwal Parajuly has. Everything about The Gurkha’s Daughter has made news internationally. The book has been reviewed very well in places as unexpected as the UAE. It was fitting that the London launch of his bestselling book The Gurkha’s Daughter should be a standing room only affair. Held at the School of Oriental and African Studies and organized by Quercus Publishers and SOAS the launch featured a reading, a Q & A and a drinks reception at which everyone made merry. The Gurkha’s Daughter had just been received rave reviews in The Guardian and The Financial Times, so a lot of the attendees were people who had read the reviews and wanted to meet the author. Others were literary types, Northeasterners, Indians and Nepalis and academic types.
Prajwal is a self deprecating, charming young man. His answers to most questions weren’t what we expected. “What inspired you to write?” “Boredom.” “Do you think you have given Nepali speakers a voice?” “I am not representing any community or religion. I am only representing myself.” But he was honest, kept the audience engaged and managed his way around some questions with the finesse of a veteran. When Professor Michael Hutt, the world’s foremost authority on Nepali people asked him where he saw himself in comparison to writers such as Samrat Upadhyaya and Manjushree Thapa, Prajwal said he was excited about where Nepali, Bhutanese and fiction from the northeast was heading. Later, over drinks, when some Nepalese asked him about the reviews that declared him far superior to these Nepalese writers, he said “they have been writing for years. I am just starting out.” When goaded further about what he thought of their writing, he replied, “I don’t know their works enough to comment on them.”
But there’s the cause for Northeast India he feels for. When writer Janice Pariat asked him about writing and politics in the northeast during the Q & A, he minced no words saying, “You can hack off India’s northeastern arm, and I doubt the rest of the country would take notice. Fiction like yours helps people understand the region differently.”
Prajwal said writing the book was difficult but getting published was not. Susan Yearwood, his agent was in the audience as was his editor Jon Riley in the audience. He looked grateful, happy and at peace with the world. He was above all humble, made everyone feel at peace and didn’t really behave like the international writing star he was. It was an evening well-spent.
Triply. D. Chaudhari tries to write but being a student takes all her energy.