Book Review – The Gurkha’s Daughter By Prajwal Parajuly

Title: The Gurkha’s Daughter
Author: 
Prajwal Parajuly
Format: 
Paperback ARC
Published: 
2013

The Gurkha’s Daughter is a short story collection by Prajwal Parajuly that focuses on various relationships of the ethnically Nepali. Most of the stories take place geographically in or near Nepal and there are maps for the geographically challenged that I appreciated.  All of the stories tend to deal with the relationships between people separated by age, class, gender, caste, race, and ethnicity.

This is a book of varied and well crafted characters in a modern setting but one unfamiliar to a western audience. The stories are simple in their scope, often focusing on family relationships or that of close friends.  But they speak to much deeper and broader cultural issues and prejudices.  Racism and poverty are a strong factors, but these aren’t simple stories of racism.  They’re complex blends with the caste system, ethnic divides, and sexism.

I found the mix of foreign and familiar well done. I have some familiarity with Indian culture but less with Nepal, so it was an interesting journey into new territory for me.  Not that I would take this as a perfectly accurate snapshot of Nepal.  It is fiction after all.  But the author certainly sets out to give a flavor of the Nepali.

My main complaint is that this is the sort of book that would benefit greatly from a glossary in the back. The author throws a lot of terms at us, and while many can be understood through context, it would help to have a quick reference.

Most of the stories tie up as well as one can hope for a short story with some degree of resolution at the end. A couple seemed to stop abruptly, and/or I felt like I was missing the full significance of the last line.

Overall, I’d give the book a 4.75 and round up to a 5 star rating. It’s true to its purpose and reads smoothly, just different enough to keep my interest engaged and the characters were well developed and presented in a relatable way.

(For what it’s worth, this is an ARC I picked up for free at a “take a book, leave shelf” at a coffee shop.)

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