Sangraula turns an unlikely storyteller
One fine morning journalist Bikash Sangraula woke up and as he lit up on the rooftop, he felt something heavy in his head. His mind was occupied with things like characters, themes, settings et cetera. That very moment Sangraula realised that the heavy feeling was because of the burden of a book that wanted to come out.
“When a mind is populated with characters, themes, settings and other minute details, a writer has no choice but to write a book,” says Sangraula, who has turned to author with his debut novel Unlikely Storytellers.
Immediately he sat in front of his computer and “I began to write”. Within two months, in September 2013, Sangraula completed his first draft. The novel is all ready and scheduled for July 28 release.
Unlikely Storytellers captures Nepali society’s contemporary themes — broken families, strained relationships, lost childhood, love, sex, marital infidelity, war, guilt, mental illness, hope and more. Spanning over 2002-2013, the story is set in places like Dolakha, Rukum, Solukhumbu and Kathmandu, among others.
It is a novel written by a BBA graduate who chose journalism because of his love for writing and a desire to become a writer. It’s been over a decade that Sangraula has been working as a journalist — currently he works for Japanese news agency Kyodo News as Nepal Correspondent.
He did not write the novel in the beginning of his journalism career as “I was not ready then. There were many factors — I didn’t have the confidence to write nor did I have the characters, themes or settings to write about,” says Sangraula.
Despite being a journalist, he struggled to write this novel.“I am a journalist and I tend to present information in a concise form as much as possible rather than elaborating them. So, the writing style for the novel became a challenge — even after finishing the novel I had to return to most of the chapters to elaborate them.”
His struggle does not end here. He was also worried about not being able to portray female characters convincingly. But he gained the confidence later with the notion, “Be it man or woman, s/he is first a human being and human beings of both genders more or less have a similar thinking.” And with this
belief, he has portrayed his female characters.
Interestingly, this novel’s protagonist is a journalist too. So, is the novel based on Sangraula’s story?
Not exactly. The protagonist has some elements of Sangraula as a journalist but the author has tried to “stay away from the character to avoid the protagonist to be my reflection”.
Instead, the author has depicted the frustration of every journalist through the protagonist — one becomes a journalist hoping to be a part of change in a democratic nation but there comes a point that makes him realise that he doesn’t change anything and his work does not make a difference. Rather he is just doing his job.
“I think life is sad but interesting, with people doing things that can’t even be imagined — the book reflects that aspect. Moreover it is also about hope that continues to live — a hope that even when things
hit rock bottom, they may bounce back.”
And the story of this novel is “sad but interesting with some crazy characters” because the author does not like happy stories. “I feel happy stories are artificial and shallow and that they completely ignore the fact that 80-90 per cent of life is about sadness. People are living on the edge and happiness lasts only for fleeting moments in one’s life.”
Written in British English, the novel is simple and straight forward, as per the author. “It is for anyone who can read English and wants to rethink their notions about people, themselves and the Nepali society,” he states.