Book Review: Karnali Blues by Buddhisagar

Buddhisagar’s novel, Karnali Blues, is a touching exploration of life in the remote regions of Nepal, articulated through the lens of the protagonist, Sumnima, as he recalls his childhood memories and the relationship with his father. This narrative offers a richly textured portrayal of the struggles and simplicity of life in the Karnali region, making it a compelling read for anyone interested in understanding the nuances of Nepali rural life and familial bonds.

The novel unfolds through a series of flashbacks, where Sumnima, now an adult, revisits his past and the pivotal moments that shaped his life. Central to the story is Sumnima’s father, referred to as Buwa, whose dreams, failures, and resilience form the backbone of the narrative. Buwa is depicted as an ambitious yet flawed man, whose aspirations for a better life for his family often clash with the harsh realities of their environment.

The story begins with Buwa’s attempt to start a business in the village, an endeavor that ultimately fails, leading to a series of relocations for the family. Each move represents a new hope and a new set of challenges, vividly illustrating the socio-economic struggles faced by rural Nepali families. Despite his repeated failures, Buwa’s unwavering determination and optimism remain a source of inspiration and frustration for Sumnima.

Karnali Blues delves into several profound themes, the most prominent being the father-son relationship. The novel portrays the complexities of this bond with great sensitivity, capturing the admiration, disappointment, and eventual understanding that define Sumnima’s feelings towards his father. Through Buwa’s character, Buddhisagar also explores themes of ambition, resilience, and the pursuit of dreams in the face of adversity.

Another significant theme is the depiction of rural life in Nepal. The author provides an authentic portrayal of the hardships, simplicity, and community spirit that characterize life in the Karnali region. The novel sheds light on the socio-economic challenges, the impact of migration, and the resilience of the people in these remote areas.

Buddhisagar’s writing is lyrical and evocative, bringing the landscapes and emotions to life with vivid imagery and heartfelt prose. His ability to capture the essence of rural Nepal through detailed descriptions and rich characterizations is commendable. The narrative structure, with its smooth transitions between past and present, allows readers to delve deep into Sumnima’s psyche and understand the profound impact of his father’s life on his own.

The characters in Karnali Blues are well-developed and relatable. Buwa stands out as a complex and multifaceted character, whose dreams and flaws make him both admirable and pitiable. Sumnima’s journey from a boy who idolizes his father to an adult who understands his father’s limitations is depicted with great nuance and empathy. The supporting characters, including Sumnima’s mother and siblings, add depth to the story, portraying the dynamics of a typical Nepali family.

Karnali Blues is a beautifully written novel that offers a deep and introspective look into the life of a rural Nepali family. Buddhisagar’s narrative skillfully captures the emotional landscape of a boy growing up under the shadow of a father who is both a hero and a human. The novel’s exploration of universal themes like family, ambition, and resilience, set against the backdrop of Nepal’s unique socio-cultural context, makes it a compelling and enriching read.

For readers interested in South Asian literature, rural narratives, or simply a touching story about family and perseverance, Karnali Blues is a must-read.

Picture Credit- Sakar Sharma, Pankaj Giri

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