cover image Mad Country

Mad Country

Samrat Upadhyay. Soho, $16 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-61695-796-4

These smart and compelling stories by Upadhyay (Buddha’s Orphans) present poignant meditations on personal identity and nationality. The protagonists experience dramatic transformations and conflicts of self. In the title story, successful Nepalese businesswoman Anamika Gurung must employ varying personas in order to provide for her ailing husband and rescue her delinquent son from police detention in Kathmandu. While she is usually able to successfully navigate the oppressive class hierarchies, failed ideologies, and broken patriarchal institutions of her homeland, things change when Anamika is inexplicably labeled a political prisoner. “America the Great Equalizer” centers on Biks, a Nepali graduate student in political science at Northern Illinois University. Following the shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson, Biks wrestles with his own identity in the shadow of riots in Ferguson, Mo., inevitably joining the unrest. In “Fast Forward,” Shalini Malla, a celebrity magazine editor in Nepal, angers the Ministry of Information and Communications by publishing investigative reports about atrocities committed by the government’s security forces. Shalini’s push for Western press freedoms results in brutality and disappearances among her journalist team. Upadhyay’s characters traverse global intersections, moving through collisions between cultures, and violent political revolts both external and internal. This is a timely and remarkable collection. (Apr.)