Sangita Swechcha: “It is high time Nepali literature make its presence felt internationally”

NL Today

  • Read Time 4 min.

Dr Sangita Swechcha has published a novel, authored “Gulafsanga ko Prem” and co-authored “Asahamatika Pailaharu” – collections of short stories. Her short stories, poems, and articles have appeared in various international journals and online portals. She was the Guest Editor for the ‘Nepali Literature Month – Nov 2019’ held at Global Literature in Libraries Initiative (GLLI), a US-based organization working towards the visibility of world literature. Two of Sangita’s latest works are “The Himalayan Sunrise: Exploring Nepal’s Literary Horizon” and “A Glimpse Into My Country”, both published by Book Hill International, UK.

Dr Swechcha, who is currently working on her second novel, took some time out to talk to Nepal Live Today.

What is your recent work “A Glimpse Into My Country” about?

The book includes international short stories by 14 writers from seven countries. It comprises 14 fiction and non-fiction tales from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, France, England, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The book provides a flavor of different countries and cultures.

Compared to authors from other countries, where do Nepali writers stand in terms of imagination, creativity, and setting characters in fiction?

I feel that Nepali writers are competitive and demonstrate a strong imaginative power. Even though Nepal is rich in literature, only a fraction of it is translated into English and other languages. We need to continue working towards it and let people get a taste of Nepali literature. This anthology is one such attempt, in that it provides a platform for Nepali writers to share their work with international writers.

I would also like to bring here the view of the other editor, Andrée Roby, who also found Nepali literature interesting. As she says: “Reading the various contributions from Nepali authors confirmed my opinion that some tend to be quite poetic in their writing, all have relatable characters and give the readers a good insight into Nepali culture, even in fictional stories. I certainly discovered a lot about Nepal and its people in the process of selecting stories for the anthology.” 

What is the initial response from readers from outside Nepal?

We are getting very positive feedback and interesting responses from readers. They have appreciated the diversity in stories, characters, settings, and plots. The stories are set in three continents and display unique literary sensibilities of writers from different backgrounds.

What was your motivation behind editing this book?

It is high time for Nepali literature to increase its visibility in international platforms and make our presence felt. I always found people around me getting more interested to see my publication in English when I had my story collection book published in Nepali. That was one of the motivating factors for me to bring out publications in English.

In the meantime, working as the Guest Editor for ‘Nepali Literature Month’ organized by Global Literature in Libraries Initiatives (GLLI), a US-based organization, for a month in 2019 made me more aware of Nepali literary landscape. During this time, I could bring out many Nepali writers’ creations such as poetries, opinions of leading literary figures through interviews as well as reviews on Nepali books to post every day. After getting lots of positive feedback from readers from across different nations on how they loved Nepali literature, I felt that people outside have an interest in Nepali literature, but we have not been able to channelize that properly. Also, having edited and published “The Himalayan Sunrise,” which is an outcome of the GLLI Nepali literature month, I wanted to bring out another publication with a mixture of writers from different countries so that it will be helpful to give a taste of Nepali literature to readers while they enjoy literature from other countries as well. I am really excited about this publication and hope that it will contribute to raising the visibility of Nepali literature to some extent.

Talking about your journey into writing, when did you first start writing?

I started writing when I was 11 or 12 years old but in those days, my writings remained mostly in my notebook as I was shy to show them to anyone. Slowly, I started taking part in literary activities at my school. I still remember representing my school Siddhartha Vanasthali in inter-school story competitions and poetry recitations.

When were you first published?

The very first published story was in SIVAA, my school magazine. As a book, the first publication was a Nepali novel (Pakhalieko Siundo) which I wrote immediately after completing I.Sc at St. Xavier’s college. I was fortunate to get support from my parents to have my novel published when I was still a teenager. The novel was launched at St. Xavier’s college by legendary novelist Daulat Bikram Bista. I would always cherish that precious moment in my life.

What are your future plans? Are you writing any other books?

I want to continue to contribute to bring out Nepali literature to the external world. Regarding my new book, I recently completed a novel. I still need to revise and work on it. This is my second novel but the first written in English, and I am looking forward to its publication this year or the next.