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It's been a while since I've read a novel that's warranted notice for the sheer volume of its subject matter. Pradeep Swar's Beautiful People should be commended for its ambition. The author traces the lives of three sets (and more) of characters simultaneously mired in the complications of parenthood, familial estrangement, terrorism, and prolonged captivity. The action transpires in different locales, and different time periods too I had to do a double-take to ensure that my mind wasn't still in Moscow when the plot had already moved on to an arms deal in Iran or was it an all-out mafia war in Italy?

Yes, Beautiful People deals with quite a lot. But it leaves a fair amount to be desired too.

In spite of his imaginative capacity, Swar falls short of doing justice to his characters and plot. His writing lacks adequate insight into the intricacies of the characters' relationships with one other and their entanglements in international crime, and his text is fraught with structural and syntactical inconsistencies that undermine the ambition of the author. It's only in the final third of the novel that the writing gains momentum.

Though Swar's treatment of his subject matter and characters is inadequate, he does show promise as a creative writer. Considering there are so few Nepali novelists who write in English, the fact that Swar has published a novel at the tender age of 19 speaks volumes for his future. Provided, of course, that he is not overwhelmed by superficial local acclaim, and is able to access guidance to better contour his work and lend coherence to his ideas.

Supriya Sharma

Beautiful People
Pradeep Swar
Pilgrims Publishing, 225 pages
Rs 520 (paperback)

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LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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