Darkmotherland: A Novel

An epic tale of love and political violence set in earthquake-ravaged Darkmotherland, a dystopian reimagining of Nepal, from the Whiting Award–winning author of Arresting God in Kathmandu


In Darkmotherland, Nepali writer Samrat Upadhyay has created a novel of infinite embrace—filled with lovers and widows, dictators and dissidents, paupers, fundamentalists, and a genderqueer power player with her eyes on the throne.

At its heart are two intertwining narratives: one of Kranti, a revolutionary’s daughter, who marries into a plutocratic dynasty and becomes ensnared in the family’s politics. And then there is the tale of Darkmotherland’s new dictator and his mistress, Rozy, who undergoes radical body changes and grows into a figure of immense power.


Darkmotherland is a romp through the vast space of a globalized universe where personal ambitions are inextricably tied to political fortunes, where individual identities are shaped by family pressures and social reins, and where the East connects to and collides with the West in brilliant and unsettling ways.


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“Upadhyay is among the smoothest and most noiseless of contemporary writers”

Los Angeles Times

“Like a Buddhist Chekhov … Upadhyay speaks to common truths”

San Francisco Chronicle

“Samrat Upadhyay brings us in contact with a world that is somehow both very far away and very familiar”

New York Times

“Upadhyay’s writing is complex and delicate”

Baltimore Sun

“Upadhyay’s characters linger. They are captured with such concise, illuminating precision that one begins to feel that they might just be real”

Christian Science Monitor

“Upadhyay … illuminates the shadow corners of his characters’ psyches, as well as the complex social and political realities of life in Nepal, with equal grace”