Mad Country


Samrat Upadhyay’s MAD COUNTRY tells (poignantly and pitilessly) the stories of a cross-section of characters in Nepal and the United States: journalists harassed and murdered by their own government, a Nepali-American immigrant who joins the Ferguson protests, a white American woman in Kathmandu obsessed with Nepali culture, and a range of others: loners, fractured families, characters drawn to or repelled by otherness, people caught between cultures in global currents they can only partially comprehend. The narrator of the title story, lying sleepless in a prison cell, her world turned upside down by a change in politics, thinking about the people she used to know, says: They came to me as though they were people I’d known a long time ago, perhaps when I lived in a distant, mad country. Is it the past that’s mad, or the present? Or are we the mad ones, for believing in any particular system—that it will endure, that our positions in it will be safe?

Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly

“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”