The Vanishing Act: Stories
I knew nothing of those who had passed before me. There was one who could have known, who could have conjured their faces and voices through an act of will and invention, but the river took him before I could ask his name, before I could ask him how his mother had died, or if he remembered her at all.
In the title story, a young, out-of-work Nepali man meets a circus clown and a giant in a park in Santa Rosa, California, and in their strange predicaments finds unexpected resonances of the lives of fellow Nepali immigrants. Fortune tells the story of an old man who watches his village transform into a teeming basti of migrants brought there to dam the Marshyangdi River, and finds himself thrown into a struggle against oblivion. In The Boy from Banauti , the river joins for one afternoon the divergent fates of two young boys playing truant and inventing stories. And in The Messiah, a wounded man remembers a martyr and worries about their place in his nation's turbulent history.
Set in the obscure village of Khaireni in central Nepal, in Kathmandu, and in California, the stories in The Vanishing Act carry a compelling sense of place and are illuminated by flashes of astonishing insight. This collection marks one of the most assured literary debuts from Nepal and from the subcontinent in recent years.