Arts and Entertainment

An unswerving passion

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Sep 14, 2015-

Ujjwal Bikram Khadka is a man who wears many hats: A medical doctor, a certified executive coach, and an author, most recently, of the novella The Sweetheart. Khadka considers writing as something that came to him as an ‘unswerving passion and prodding’. The author talks to The Post about his reading interests. Excerpts:

How did you first come to love books?

I came to love books quite early in life; when I was nine, actually. It was this book-shelf in my house, which had quite a collection, which served as a backdrop for my love of books. But most importantly, it was my father and uncles who prodded me to delve into and relish the act of reading, and make it a lifelong habit; in it, they asserted was not just joy, but a great habit that could help acquire knowledge and wisdom—and yes, skills too.

What was the last book you read, and how did you like it?

It was Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Actually, it was the fourth time that I read it in the past few years. I love Woolf. Her prose is all about poetic affect… and what’s more! Here is a truly sensitive writer, who in addition to writing about women and their vexations, also wrote about human frailties. And, of course, her dealing in the genre of my favourite form of literature—experimental literature—sure added a bit.

What do you plan to read next?

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. Ever since I watched the movie, I’ve wanted to read this book, but somehow haven’t had the time or opportunity. Besides, Ishiguro is one of the greatest contemporary writers. In any case, loving a movie (based on a novel) does make you want to read the book, doesn’t it?

Do you have a favourite genre?

Avante-garde. I equate literature to art, and avant-garde and post-modernist writing gets close... every time! Perhaps that’s why I love Joyce and Woolf so much. I prefer fiction. It is so because it aids readers escape the drab of everyday mundane—if you take the everyday for being mundane (I do, oftentimes).

Who are your favourite authors of all time?

There are many. But let me name a few here: Leo Tolstoy, Saul Bellow, Virginia Woolf, Henry James, VS Naipaul, Rabindranath Tagore and Anita Desai. And my all-time favourite is DH Lawrence. Among Nepali writers, I like the works of Mahakavi Laxmi Prasad Devkota, Lain Singh Bangdel and Parijaat.

One book you would or would not recommend any why?

One that I would recommend is One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is the ‘granddaddy’ of all magical realism novels, and also of novels that mirrors an entire civilisation—or an entire community at the least.

How do you select books to read?

As I reflect on my own reading habit, I have noticed a common denominator: That I actually pick books (and their genre) depending on my mood. Sure, there are days when at a certain emotional state I go with fiction—which is my frequent chore too. But then there are moments when I scour for non-fiction books.

One book that has inspired you a lot?

The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway. As a writer, I think despite the succinctness, Hemingway has succeeded in creating a masterpiece—also, he has created great literary and influential effects when it comes to letting allegorical and metaphorical aspects of a sentence create ‘literary effects’. The novel has mirrored life itself, and its angst, trials, tribulations and anxieties.

Apart from books on social sciences, how have other books affected your life?

Books on leadership and coaching have helped my career immensely—since I am also a certified business coach. These works border on helping us assume a life of integrity, character, virtue and vision: evidently the quintessential traits and attributes of a leader. And, here let me add, everybody is a leader. If you hold a certain position in life, you are a leader. So, a housewife is a leader and so is a sports star.

Are you writing a book now? What is its thesis?

I am working on a book right now that borders on magical realism. But since I let things come to me, it’s pretty early to predict if it’ll eventually fall in the said genre.

What is good writing for you? What would you say makes a good writer?

Good writing will have a premise, strong characters and a compelling writing. Besides, works that reiterate the sentiments of an entire community and sect resonates with me too. Needless to assert, for me, writers with these attributes make a good writer.

Your advice to general readers?

Read everything from fiction, non-fiction and memoir to self-help and the rest. Be a student. Books are and can be the greatest source of inspiration provided you choose great books.


Published: 14-09-2015 08:38

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