Man of the People

Seen from a distance, today's Nepal is an otherworldly place. Its hills are overrun with young and frightening Maoist guerrillas. Until a few weeks ago, its cities were brimming with baton-swinging riot police in blue fatigues and protesting students with torches in their hands. Average people doing average things seem about as common as yetis—except in the work of Nepali author Samrat Upadhyay. The Royal Ghosts, his new collection of short stories, is full of characters who care for sick parents, fall in love with the wrong people, cheat on their spouses or get drunk in the afternoon when they should...

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