Felicitated by Madan Purashkar in the year 2005, Palpasa Cafe, a novel by Narayan Wagle, is one stop for readers of all kinds and ages. The editor of Kantipur Daily, Wagle's novel is set during the 10-year-long Maoists insurgency in Nepal. Opening on the nameless character referred only as 'I' is an artist and is on the verge of earning prominence with his undaunted skills in art. Few causal yet co-incidental meetings with Palpasa develops into strong feelings between the two. No, this isn't a romantic novel for the emotion is dealt with on a more platonic level here. The story progresses ahead with unexpected twists and turns, and series of co-incidences. Though the scenes appear simple, they bear many marvel points that touch. The book has its share of message and visions for a youthful living along with the suffering we had to go through in the hands of the Maoist and the then government. One of the strong points of the book is its characterization. They are all strong and have definite sense of purpose and beliefs that make them almost too real. For instance, Palpasa is a daring woman who comes back to Nepal from the States and wants to make a significant career in documentary film making. Chhiring and Kishore on the other hand are the rising stars in their photography and singing career respectively. Palpasa's grandmother becomes the author's mouthpiece in voicing his love for his motherland. They are all so simple and life like that one is bound to find at least a character they can relate to. The novel works on different level and through each character Wagle reflects on our culture, values and most important of all deals with the current fascination of the youth in being educated abroad and choosing to live there giving way to a severe case of brain-drain. But the book also has characters that come back to their motherland with great zeal and enthusiasm. Another pressing topic that the book addresses through a series of minor characters is the effect of violence on the innocent people. The writer creates the scenes of skeletal remains of schools and hospitals after series of bombarding and gunfire as we turn the pages. Loss of loved ones in the violence and the pain it causes is shown from different perspective like the death of Mami's children, death of the husband of a newly married woman and the tragedy of losing a best friend experienced by a child. Realistic, simple and the easy flow of language makes it an interesting read It has so much to offer and it succeeds in doing this succinctly, making every information it wants to share brief and to the point. Palpasa Cafe got the hype and it certainly lives up to it.
पल्पसा क्याफेले नेपाली साहित्यमा एउटा तरङ्ग ल्याएको छ । पात्रहरुमध्य एउटी बालिकाको सानो कथा मात्रले पनि यो उपन्यास अमर बनेको छ ।
Narayan Wagle's first novel drags us to the edge and forces us to peer down at the abyss below
Editor , Nepali Times