Top 10 Famous Nepali Books Worldwide

Riya Pant,   Blog   03 June 2022
Top 10 Famous Nepali Books Worldwide

Nepali books are written exquisitely and present very unique storylines. Sometimes, our gems get forgotten amidst international best-sellers and social media sensations. But every once in a while, readers will realize to appreciate our mother tongue and creation. In this list, we cover the best selling Nepali books of all time. These books are popular internationally, some have even been translated into other languages.

Let’s begin.

  • Palpasa Cafe – Narayan Wagle

First published in 2005, Palpasa Cafe is set during the 10-year-long Maoist insurgency in Nepal. The story follows an artist, Drishya, during the height of the civil war. The novel is partly a love story of Drishya and the first generation American Nepali, Palpasa, who has returned home to her parents after 9/11. People also cite the novel as an anti-war novel as it describes the effects of the civil war on the people of rural Nepal that Drishya travels to.

The book was felicitated with Madan Puraskar, the highest form of honour that a writer receives for his/her contribution to Nepali literature. This was Wagle’s first book. The book sold over 25,000 copies in the first year. As of today, the book has sold over 60,00 copies worldwide and is also the first Nepali book to be available on Kindle. It was also translated into English and Korean.

  • Jeevan Kada ki Phool – Jhamak Kumari Ghimire

Next up on the list, also a Madan Puraskar winner is the Nepali best seller of all time. Jeevan Kada Ki Phool is Jhamak Ghimire’s autobiography/memoir as a differently able person who can neither move her limbs nor speak. Often cited as the Helen Keller of Nepal, Jhamak Ghimire was born on 1 January 1980 in Dhankuta, Nepal with cerebral palsy. This is a permanent disorder which weakens bodily functions and senses. As a result, she cannot move her limbs or talk. She wasn’t sent to school, so she taught herself how to read and write. In 15 years of writing and practising, she has written several articles and even sent some to local newspapers. She alone produced 11 books in those 15 years.

The book describes how society turned on her, judged her and how neglected she felt all her life. She includes some disturbing events that will pain you and then motivate you. There are so many things to be grateful more; being able to move, speak and communicate are incredible gifts that we should cherish. This book will teach you that.

  • Muna Madan – Laxmi Prasad Devkota

Muna Madan is a 1936 episodic love poem written by Laxmi Prasad Devkota. It is one of the most popular works in Nepali literature and also the most commercially successful. Just before his death in 1959, Devkota made his famous statement, “It would be all right if all my works were burned, except for Muna Madan”.

The book describes the story of Madan, who leaves his new wife, Muna to go to Lhasa in Tibet to make his fortune, despite her protests. Muna, the epitome of love and sacrifice, stays with her sick mother-in-law waiting for the return of her husband so that their lives can be better and happier. After many obstacles and risks in Lhasa, when Madan finally returns home after years, his world is turned upside down.

Madan represents all Nepali youth who go abroad to earn money in hopes of sending some back to their families. But not everyone is as fortunate.

  • Sirish ko Phool – Parijat

Sirish ko Phool, first published in 1964, was Parijat’s first and most successful novel. It was awarded the Madan Puraskar in 1965.

The book describes the mid-life crisis of the narrator, Suyog Bir Singh, who is a former world war soldier. He lives an unimpressive and uncelebrated life with no one to resort to as family or friends. He often turns to alcohol and goes to bars. He meets a drinking partner, Shivaraj, who takes Suyog to his home. There he meets a woman 16 years younger than him, Sakambari and grows infatuated with her.

The book depicts emptiness and meaninglessness in life. The book has been translated to English as The Blue Mimosa and is also included in some university courses worldwide.

  • Summer Love – Subin Bhattarai

Probably the cult classic of modern Nepali literature. If you have read 100 Nepali books, it is one of them, if you have read only one Nepali book, this is it. And if you haven’t yet, this is your sign to read it. This bestseller was Subin Bhattarai’s second book and first novel.

Summer love is an unusual love story of a Newari girl Saya and a Brahmin boy Atit, college students at the Central Department of Environmental Science (CDES) at Tribhuvan University. Atit, who ranked the lowest on the entrance list, falls in love with Saya, the topper. He is intrigued by her and as his quest to find more about her succeeds, they both begin a secret intimate relationship. But as their college life ends, Atit has to go to Dhangadhi and Saya to Norway. As time passes, Atit starts to look for Saya and goes to Norway. There he meets a friend of his and this book is Atit telling him the story as it happened.

The name “Summer Love” signifies the content of the whole love story; short-lived but impactful. The whole book is from Atit’s perspective, which makes it easy to read. And the plot is relatable to young and young-adult Nepali people, so it is hard to put down.

  • Antarman ko Yatra – Jagdish Ghimire

Antarman ko Yatra (literal translation “Journey to Inner Heart”) is an autobiography of the Nepalese writer, political analyst and development worker. The book won the Madan Puraskar in 2068. The book is part memoir and part travelogue, describing his journey as a writer and the challenges he faced.

Jagdish Ghimire’s life is presented like an adventurous movie which is surrounded by cheers, miseries, and ups and downs. After reading this book, the personality of Jagdish Ghimire can be understood in multiple ways, a talented literate, a sacrificing social worker, a revolutionary young leader, a responsible son, a respected father and a lovable husband.

  • Seto Dharti – Amar Neupane 

Seto Dharti (lit. White Earth) was published in 2012 and won the Madan Puraskar. Set from 1850 to 1950, the novel is based on child marriage, which was very common back then in the Nepalese society. The story follows the life of a girl named Tara, from her birth to innocent childhood, and her early marriage at the age of seven until she is elderly. When her husband dies, this nine-year-old girl is bound to live her life as a child widow. Her world goes white, she faces countless difficulties. The novel gives a truthful account of how women suffered in that society, widow or not.

  • Khusi – Vijay Kumar

Khusi (lit. Happiness) is an autobiographical book published in 2014. Another Madan Puraskar winner on the list. Vijay Kumar is a writer, journalist, and TV host. The book is based on his memoirs, essays and portraits. Vijay, who hosts the most-watched talk show in Nepal, depicts his journey and his various experiences in life. He touches on subjects like alcoholism, power, abuse of power, money, sex, and spirituality. A memorable book that is bound to touch your heart.

  • China Harayeko Manche – Hari Bansha Acharya

Hari Bansha Acharya is a highly noted Nepali actor, comedian, singer and writer. He is known for his method of acting. His comedy duo (Maha Jodi) with fellow comedian Madan Krishna Shrestha is a national treasure. The book is about a simple, god-fearing man who lost his “china” or “cheena” (horoscope). He depicts his childhood memories, fantasies and the struggles he had to face during his adolescent years. 

During a launch ceremony of his book, he said he wished to be a god in his next life so that he in turn could transform the gods into human beings subject to pain, misery and suffering.

“I wrote this book to heal my pain of losing her.”

  • Phirphire – Buddhi Sagar

Phirpire is a 2016 Novel by Buddhi Sagar. This is his second novel and was also nominated for the Madan Puraskar.

The book follows the life story of Basanta, who hears that his house in the village is about to be demolished. When he goes back to his village after 16 years to see the house one last time, he is reminded of his past that he had always wanted to forget. Thus unfolds the story of his friendship with Pawan, who lost his memory after falling prey to village politics and superstitions, the loving Jethiaama, the snake killer Chilgadhi, the goon Rocky Dada, the village shaman Kohinoor and more. Each character is colourful, and nuanced and will pull the reader further in the book.

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