‘Because Sikkim is small, and its realities are graspable, it can behave like a character’

If you have visited Sikkim and taxied in the “cushioned unity” of a crowded jeep , with Nepali music backdropping a boisterous gang of local strangers, you’ve lived a story by Chetan Raj Shrestha. If you have read his published fiction – The King’s Harvest, a suite of novellas, and The Light of His Clan, a novel – you’ve lived the state’s complex realities.

In the 38-year-old Gangtok-born writer and trained architect, the Himalayan state has found a voice to tell its stories. Its past, present and everything in between – even the hush-hush bits from the cobwebs of history which no longer figure in dinner time conversations. Skilfully weaving facts with fiction, Shrestha portrays Sikkim in all its Himalayan grandeur and with all its flaws – corruption, caste-system, domestic violence – manoeuvring himself through societal fault lines. He writes with the unsentimental fondness of a local boy who loves the place but is not blind to its shortcomings.

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