Go back to
Home » My Kolkata » Events » Bengal Club’s Book Club digs deep into The story behind Land Where I Flee

Book club

Bengal Club’s Book Club digs deep into The story behind Land Where I Flee

Author Prajwal Parajuly was at the event as the guest of honour to celebrate and discuss his widely read work and debut novel

Sukanya Basu | Published 19.10.22, 02:20 AM
Author Prajwal Parajuly

Author Prajwal Parajuly

On October 14, celebrating the 22nd month of the book club meet, The Bengal Club hosted the very compelling and renowned young writer, Prajwal Parajuly as their guest of honour to celebrate and discuss his widely read work and debut novel, Land Where I Flee. Anchor, conceptualiser and curator of the book club, Julie Banerjee Mehta led the session with deep insight and concept into this month’s read.

Gangtok-born Indian writer Parajuly, based in New York, has become, most recently, an “item” in France’s publishing industry. Winning coveted French awards for writing about the Nepali-speaking diaspora, and blessed with a burgeoning readership, both his fictional works — a book of short stories, The Gurkha's daughter, and his first novel, Land Where I Flee — are hot off the press in France, being published as French paperback editions in August and September this year. In his first novel Land Where I Flee the dysfunctional members of a scattered diasporic Nepali-speaking family have a reunion with their 84-year-old grandmother. Parajuly’s talent as a storyteller is on full display in this novel. He nails the nuances of human nature and makes his characters come alive on the page.


The session hosted a deeper look into the book where Mehta and other members of the book club came up with concepts and ideas that were unknown before. The members quizzed about the author’s research and writing process, the idea behind Hindu divinity names of the characters, the Nepali-speaking community and the most prodding question in the book, the concept of ‘homeland’. “There had been so much excitement around the Land Where I Flee. India was to be the guest country at the Paris Book Fair in March 2020, and Fuir et revenir would be among the handful of books to be published to coincide with the festival. Emmanuelle Collas, my publisher, had left no stone unturned in ensuring the book’s visibility. Christine Cornet and the good people at the Institut Français and the French embassy in India had cobbled together teaching gigs and several appearances at other events after the festival,” said Prajwal. When asked about his writing process the author brightly said that the writing is fast but the editing is slow. The draft might be some other writer’s notes, “but the magic starts while editing the sentences”. The writer elaborately highlighted the key points about one of the central characters of the book, Chitralekha, and spoke about the inspiration behind the 84-year old woman with a progressive mind and dynamic character. “I read many books, growing up where grandmothers are docile, setting up cushions in the sun, and somehow, I didn’t want to write that, I wanted to write about a worldly educated woman, who made play things out of a politician, she is a woman who is a product of her surroundings, so she wouldn’t be able to relate to things from now. If I say so myself, I do think Chitralekha is by far the best character that I have created.” Parajuly’s book is an eye-opener to cultural, social and political ideas that were unexplored.

This novel showcases Parajuly’s skill as a storyteller who captures the minutiae of human character and makes his characters dance in front of his readers. In his interaction with the Nepali-speaking students in my class in particular, his stories resonate deeply —Julie Banerjee Mehta

Last updated on 19.10.22, 08:39 PM

More from My Kolkata