Palpasa Café, by Narayan Wagle, is a good story based on the Maoists’ declaration of civil war. Drishya and Palpasa, the novel’s two core characters, spend most of their time with the male protagonist.
It tells the life of an artist named Drishya who lives in Nepal during the civil war. It also includes a love story. It explores not only the repercussions of the civil war on the Nepali countryside that the male protagonist visits, but also Drishya’s blossoming love for Palpasa, a first-generation American Nepali.
Drishya, a professional artist, enjoyed traveling about the countryside, and the sites he visited were heavily impacted by the civil war. There was no assurance of human life because no one knew when or what would happen. During one of his journeys, he met Palpasa, a first-generation American Nepali who had traveled to Nepal to see her parents’ birth country. After a few meetings, conversations, and discussions, they grow to like each other and eventually fall in love.
They couldn’t admit it straight or write a letter to show their devotion. The ensuing civil war has wreaked devastation not only on the country and the countryside but also on these two characters’ lives. Through the eyes and lives of the character Drishya, the effects and horrible situation of the country and its people created by the conflict are subtly depicted.
Palpasa Cafe, published in 2005, was and continues to be one of the best-selling Nepali novels, with 25000 copies sold in its first year. The book was originally printed in Nepali and afterward translated into English and Korean by Nepalaya. Palpasa Café, the first novel by notable Nepali journalist Narayan Wagle, won numerous accolades and honors, including Nepal’s most prestigious literary award, the Madan Puraskar.
Palpasa Café opens with a prefatory chapter in which author Wagle discusses going to a meeting with the man who is the subject of a novel he has been working on; the manuscript is nearly finished, and all he wants is one last interview with his subject, an artist named Drishya. Drishya never shows up for the appointment; when Wagle contacts Drishya’s assistant, he discovers that five men arrived at Drishya’s gallery, pretending to be security officers, and demanded that he accompany them — effectively, a kidnapping in broad daylight. It’s all too prevalent in Nepal in the early twenty-first century.
In the final chapter, ‘In the End,’ Wagle adopts the narrator’s role once more, describing how he finished the work “based on whatever knowledge I’ve been able to piece together.” He also discusses how the novel’s concept arose, as well as how he approached the subject, inspired by Drishya, who wanted to write about an ‘ordinary artist’ (‘ordinary’ in the sense of matching Wagle’s own background):