I did it my way
Sep 9, 2017-Kumar Nagarkoti, who has previously published popular books such as Ghatmandu and Mystica, recently released a memoir—Docha. Nagarkoti is known for his unconventional plots and out of the world concepts in fiction, and in doing so his works have carved new pathways for Nepali literature. In this conversation with the Post’s Samikshya Bhattarai, Nagarkoti talks about his new book, his eccentric storytelling style, and more. Excerpts:
Your new book is titled Docha. Can you tell us about both the title and the book?
Docha literally translates to the shoes that people in the Himalayan region wear. But for me, the word holds the meaning of a private museum—a personal space where I can store and safeguard my feelings, emotions, and memories. Let’s just say, I am giving the readers a sneak-peek into this private space through the book.
Docha is a memoir that sums up my life, my love for literature, art, and the people around me, and everything that defines who I am today. This book is a love letter of sorts to everything that encompasses my existence today. This book is a celebration of my life.
Although a memoir, Docha is not necessarily a first person narrative. In fact, it has birds and inanimate objects telling your story. Can you tell us about the unconventional story-telling process?
I love experimenting with genres. When I was writing Docha, I didn’t want it to be just another non-fiction book. I wanted to try methods that gave fresh approach to story-telling and fresh outlook to the story. I wanted to make sure that my readers were as enticed reading a real-life story as they would be while reading a fiction. The birds and other inanimate objects that narrate my story in the book are part of my everyday life. If they could, they would observe me and would definitely comment on who I am, what I do. While it does not steal away from the authenticity of the story, it definitely deviates from the drab first-person story-telling of memoirs.
The book also uses the concept of time travel while moving back and forth between various stages of my life. I used this method so that the readers could feel the excitement. Experience is important while reading. You don’t want it to be a passive process. You want to keep the readers on their toe and make sure they can’t predict what’s next. I wanted this book to be unconventional, and the end result is exactly that.
You are known for your eccentric stories, unconventional plots and a markedly different style of storytelling. Do you think it is necessary for fiction to steer away from reality and have unconventional plots to have an impact?
I don’t think it is compulsory for fiction to be out of this world to have an impact, but I do feel like there is something missing in terms of creativity, imagination, and craft and style when the story is too close to reality. Hence, when I write fiction, I make sure that my story bursts with creativity. I would hate it if my stories are limited to traditional story-telling methods. That is why I make deliberate attempts to tell irregular stories. At the end of the day it’s all about who the writer is and how they want to tell the story. I walk on the road less taken, but that doesn’t mean this is the best road; it only means that this is a choice I made.
You describe yourself as a fiction designer. What do you mean by it?
For me writing fiction has always been about how to write rather than what to write. I always search for new techniques to write and to execute new and different ideas into all my stories. I experiment on various genre and try to challenge the existing format to create my own. As most of my works are more about breaking the existing mould, I like to describe myself as a fiction designer. I am not a writer yet, I have a long way to go. But I am a designer who builds and designs stories.
Most of the names of your characters are very eccentric too. What significance do you think the names of the characters have in stories?
Names of the characters play an important role. I don’t want actual people to have any resemblance to my characters, and definitely not through names. For example, if one of my characters is named Ram, the readers will immediately picture the character as the Ram they know. If I provide eccentric names to my characters, people can build on the fresh imagination that my book is feeding them. In simple words, eccentrically named characters nullify bias.
Poetry is a very important part of your books regardless of its genre. What does poetry provide you in terms of expression that no other genre provides?
When I first started writing, I used to write a lot of poems. I was a poet and I’ll always be one, and it is only fair that my works reflect who I am.
I also inject poetry into fiction to provide equilibrium between the heart and the mind. Fiction is related to imagination, creation, innovation, and more which are matters of mind and intellect whereas, poetry is connected to the matters of heart—the feelings and the emotions. The blend of these two different genres hence creates a good balance in story-telling.
You have received some criticism for mixing words from various languages into one work. Yet, it seems it is an important method for you.
I have a love-affair with words no matter what language or community they originate from. So, if I like a word, from say French or Spanish, I use it in my work. I think limiting my writings to only one language takes away from my creativity and imagination. This is my way of exploiting my creative freedom to the fullest.
What do you think about the contemporary fiction writing in Nepali literature?
To be honest, I think our pool of fiction is quite monotonous. It is almost always based on social realism. We have been building ourselves in the same foundation that was set hundreds of years back. I think Nepali fiction writers need to explore new horizons and go beyond writing about social realities.
Published: 09-09-2017 09:56