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Arresting God in Kathmandu

3.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,058 ratings  ·  114 reviews
From the first Nepali author writing in English to be published in the West, Arresting God in Kathmandu brilliantly explores the nature of desire and spirituality in a changing society. With the assurance and unsentimental wisdom of a long-established writer, Upadhyay records the echoes of modernization throughout love and family. Here are husbands and wives bound together ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published August 2nd 2001 by Mariner Books
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Average rating 3.28  · 
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 ·  1,058 ratings  ·  114 reviews

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Dec 09, 2007 rated it did not like it
Being from Nepal, I wanted to like this book, I really did. However, the more of it I read the more it reeked of fakeness - of a cheap stage show put on to take advantage of a wide-eyed Western audience. It's implied attempt at authenticity came across as nothing but a manufactured sensibility designed to push the right buttons among a Western readership with limited knowledge of Nepal but a vague notion of it being an "exotic", interesting place. The author seems determined to dispel the naivet ...more
This was NOT it for me. Very unlikeable characters in almost all the stories, and there was an odd way of ending them that at the same time denied readers resolution and also turned matters for the worse. I'm not sure now why I bothered to finish, as I think this one was ticking off challenge tasks that weren't that difficult anyway. I guess at least if anyone who doesn't like the first story or two happens to read this, they'll know the stories in the collection are all like that. ...more
Sulata Dhakal
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was ok
What a smart name Upadhyay has found, but sadly he couldn't justify the title through his stories. I didn't enjoy any story from this book. It contain like 8 short stories but each storyline seems same, and it doesn't provide any exact perspective of life of Nepal. I'm not saying that kind of stories aren't from Nepal but there was no variation and it provides limited perception of Nepal and Nepalese.
Samrat's way of writing is simple and clear but at the end the story loses its shine and it fall
Sep 14, 2020 rated it liked it

A collection of 9 short stories.
After the initial 3-4 stories, felt a more apt title could have been Unleashing Lust in Kathmandu!

The stories revolved around characters having immoral sex without any strings attached. With a dash of Nepal's famous locations references in the background. Out of all the stories, loved the last one the most - "A Great Man's House".

Picked this with an eye to learn more about Nepal from a cultural point of view. Wouldn't say it was disappointing, but not up to the
Short stories where the characters are not allowed to have sophisticated thoughts and tend to go around having (mostly) guilty, joyless sex. I managed to finish it - the pagecount was low - but I’ll be wary of reading any more Upadhyay in future.
Manashwi Karki
Jan 21, 2015 rated it liked it
This book made me confused. In all honesty, just confused. Yes, there were some characters I could relate to, and even put a face on some, but the actions they took, and the consequences of the actions had me questioning the whole thing. The endings were, in some stories, abrupt; in some, incomplete and in rest, questionable. Perhaps this book is intended for mature readers, or maybe I am not much familiar with the world, I know not. Kept me glued till the whole thing was over, but yet, left me ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
The struggle is real.
Mar 08, 2008 rated it did not like it
I read glowing reviews of the book and of Mr. Upadhyay as an author; being from Nepal, I hoped it would live up to the expectations imposed on one of a handful of Nepali authors to "emerge" on the world stage. To be brutally honest, I absolutely did not like this book; the tried and tested tales of small alleys, smell of spices wafting from's the same story line that so many writers from the subcontinent stick with..albeit with good reason - it helps sell the books much faster to an ...more
Aashruti K.c
Apr 02, 2018 rated it liked it
To be honest , quite disappointed from this book. I just felt some stories to finish fast so that i could start another story, i also felt the writer using excessive use of sexuality feelings in his each story.
I enjoyed "The great man's house " story the most .
Maybe the story is impeccable from western point of view but i hardly believe the story to catch a strong hold from Nepalese point of view.
However glad to see such an improvement of the writer from Arresting god in kathmandu to Mad countr
Benu B
Nov 11, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nirooj Bista
Jan 21, 2015 rated it liked it
I really liked the story “The Cooking Poet” among them. I loved the characters in the stories. There are echoes of modernization throughout love and family. Some stories are not as fascinating so I had to wish it to end soon while I was reading it. But others I enjoyed throughly. The main thing lacking in the book is a story for the title itself. Theres no such thing Arresting God not even a slight involvement of God or I didnt find any. But there sure was Kathmandu, as all the stories took plac ...more
Pallavi Dhakal
Dec 19, 2011 rated it liked it
I liked it because I could relate to the background it draws its essence from. However, there are couple of stories that did not interest me much. All in all it is not a bad book written by a Nepali writer but I think those who are not Nepali might end up liking the book more than Nepalese themselves.
May 17, 2015 rated it liked it
The book is an anthology of short stories that centers around Nepalese protagonists. It was a fresh read after series of monotonous romantic novels. One particular story, "The Limping Bride" left me in the state of dishevelment. Few stories felt like I was watching a regular Nepali soap and others felt relatable. ...more
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Picked up the book in Kathmandu, in an attempt to read something written by a Nepali rather than foreigners.

Overall, the stories were disappointing, somewhat abrupt. Two stood out - Deepak Mishra's Secretary and This World. In both stories, the author tackles uneasy feeling of being exposed to the possibilities of a wider world while remaining emotionally tethered to one's roots. And the dilemmas that arise from being 'neither here nor there'.

Upadhyay is particularly skilful at narrating the in
Laura Inkpen
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Grand disappointment and forbidden urges come out to play in this collection of short stories from the first Nepali author to be published in the west. Casting a critical (and noticeably male) eye over life in Kathmandu the series offers sparse prose in its foray into the internal life of these characters and gives us a fascinating insight into the lives of those who until now weren't allowed to have a voice. ...more
Shreepriya Poudel
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
"A great man's house" deserves 6 stars. "The room next door" is a solid 5.

The stories are interesting as pieces of literature but are not representative of modern Kathmandu. Some of Upadhyay's phrases are awkward and don't capture the cultural context they should. Most stories explore the themes of sexuality and mother-son dynamics at the expense of other, potentially more engaging subjects. The vivid writing makes up for any shortcomings in plot development.
May 24, 2020 rated it liked it
This short stories collection by Samrat Upadhyay portraits the ordinary lives of people living in Kathmandu and their internal monologues, struggles with relationship, intimacies, sexual tension, marriage and family burdens.
Each story is different, have characters of different age group, occupation, varied interests and burdens in life. Some stories seem familiar to what we have seen and heard in our society while few disgust you and make you cringe.
While they are mostly interesting to read, no
The Book and Books
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
Maybe because I had great expectations, I did not enjoy it. This book has a collection of 9 stories. And honestly I couldn't find the title justifiable ( It's not a must though). I would prefer this book to the new readers, the simple language and easy story telling style shall be easy for the new readers to grasp the habit of reading.
Laura Faludi
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Crash course on Nepali literature no. 2
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2011
Not really my cup of tea. I'm not a huge fan of short stories to begin with, though I have a soft spot for collections which have stories or characters that intersect with one another (I think it was Kate Atkinson who did this particularly well in one of her books). But both individually and collectively, I was a bit disappointed with these stories. None of them particularly grabbed me, and all of the endings fell flat for me. I also didn't particularly like the common theme of infidelity, or a ...more
Dec 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
After reading the reviews i expected a lot from this book. However i have been utterly dismayed. The story line is the same, does not actually give a wide perspective of life in the Nepalese context. The book may appeal to the western readers, however, their perception and views of Nepal and the Nepalese will be limited to what has been shown in the book. The only story i liked was The Cooking Poet, and apart from that there was nothing substantial to read about, nothing that one wouldn't alread ...more
Swagatam Nath
There's not much "arresting" in the book as the catchy title says. It was an OK kind of read. I liked "The Cooking Poet", "This World" and "A Great Man's House" out of the paltry collection of the stories. A few more stories with one titled the same as the book would have helped. The conflict of holding on to tradition while the world is transiting into modernity is well portrayed. The prose in itself is well written. The book however fails to give us a wide perspective of Nepal although most of ...more
May 10, 2014 rated it liked it
I generally do not like short story collections, but this book was excellent. All of the stories were interesting and could have been expanded, but did not seem to be incomplete as they are written. The author did a tremendous job of developing each character in a short period of time, to make each individual story worth reading. The stories focus more on human interaction than on cultural aspects specific to Nepal, although there is definitely a South Asian flavor to each of them.
Joan Cochran
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Several people recommended this book to me while traveling in Nepal. I hoped it would provide me insight into the people and the country and it did to a small extent. Not to say it wasn't an interesting read. It's a collections of books about relationships ... especially about those who leave their home country and those who stay behind. It's mostly stories of unfulfilled love and lust and facing reality. ...more
Kate A.
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A collection of short stories set in the changing society of Nepal. Some of the stories are simple life stories that are just heartbreaking. But others made me really think about the Westernization of religion which was refreshing to have to think about.
Biboss Maharjan
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Compacting the dark side of Kathmandu through short stories.
Apr 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Great depiction of the tension between tradition and modernity.
Ankit Dhakal
Dec 30, 2020 rated it liked it
When Lord Indra came down to Nepal (now Kathmandu) to fetch Parijat flowers for his mother Vasundhara, he was called a thief, caught by the Tantrics, and was dragged around the city. His mother had to come down from Swarga, make various promises to the people and take Indra back to Swarga. Did Samrat Upadhyay's collection of nine short stories derive its name from this folklore/tradition of Indra Jatra? Maybe. There are Indras, who have been trapped by lust, envy, and weaknesses, in the story. H ...more
Dana Clinton
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I grew to enjoy the writing in Samrat Upadhyay’s collection of stories, Arresting God in Kathmandu as over the course of many stories, the feeling of comprehending more of a different world was real. There is a lot of frustration here and not much joy, and sexual longing is everywhere. My favorite story is the last one, called “A Great Man’s House”. The story is narrated by a long-time servant tending to his dying master, a once revered spiritual leader to others until he remarries a younger wom ...more
Jan 02, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Is there anything particularly Nepali about the stories and characters? More about living in a time of modernization, caught between old values and new desires - and the self-sabotaging actions that spring from this tension. None of the characters are likable, but I don't think they're supposed to be and I don't think they even need to be in a work of literary fiction. Each story ends on a moment of desire being ignited, its flames fanned, and our protagonist suspended deeper into the
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SAMRAT UPADHYAY is the author of Arresting God in Kathmandu, which earned him a Whiting Award, and The Guru of Love, which was a New York Times Notable Book, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, a finalist for the Kiriyama Prize, and a Book Sense 76 pick. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana, and teaches creative writing and literature at Indiana University. His eight-year-old daughter Sha ...more

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