Book Review: ‘Leech and Other Stories’ by Ranjan Adiga

Navigating New Worlds: Stories of Nepali Lives Between Home and Abroad

Book Title: Leech and Other Stories
Author: Ranjan Adiga
Publisher: Penguin
Number of Pages: 256
ISBN: 978-0143463382
Date Published: Apr. 30, 2024
Price: INR 247

Leech and Other Stories by Ranjan Adiga Book Cover

Book Review

Leech and Other Stories” by Ranjan Adiga is a collection of ten short stories about Nepalis adjusting to new environments and experiences, both in Nepal and overseas. The stories address issues such as the difficulty of belonging, stereotypes, segregation, relocation, and societal standards surrounding desire and sexuality. Each story examines the gap between home and abroad, desire and reality, allegiance and betrayal.

The title story, “Leech,” is a dramatic narrative that depicts the class divisions in Nepali culture. It depicts the story of a leech that enters a man’s nose, acting as a metaphor for the characters’ underlying class difficulties. silences in their relationships after relocating to America.

Here are some more stories from the collection:

One story might delve into the life of a middle-aged Nepali man grappling with his sexuality within a deeply conservative social system.

Another could follow a professor who is consumed by worries about his immigrant status in America.

A young couple’s efforts to bridge the silences in their relationship after moving to America is also a subject of one of the tales.

Not all stories relate to migration. We meet Sarita, a convert to Christianity who struggles to make a name for herself in her bank. There is Ma, a bored housewife, trying to control a rebellious teenager while coming to terms with the fact her own life didn’t go as planned. Or Iqbal, a barber from near the Indian border, making his way in Kathmandu far from home, using his skills as a barber and masseur who soon clashes with one of his customers Krishna, over what is considered proper behavior.

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These stories are more than just chronicles of individual challenges; they are also reflections on the communal experience of a community seeking to find its place in a rapidly changing world. Adiga’s work is lauded for its ability to highlight his characters’ emotional and psychological journeys as they strive to reconcile their traditional origins with the pressures of modern life.

Leech and Other Stories” is a notable contribution to South Asian literature, providing readers with a comprehensive understanding of the Nepali diaspora’s experiences as well as the universal yearning for identification and belonging.

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