Manjushree Thapa writes fiction and nonfiction, and translates Nepali literature into English.
Her previous novel, Seasons of Flight, is about a Nepali woman who wins a US green card in a lottery and moves to Los Angeles. It was praised by India Today as “a great read from a distinctive and elegant writer.” Her short story collection Tilled Earth centres on the everyday lives of Nepalis and the Nepali diaspora. Her first novel, The Tutor of History, is set during an election in Nepal. An author recording has been archived by the South Asian Literary Recording Project at the US Library of Congress.
Manjushree’s most recent nonfiction book is The Lives We Have Lost, a collection of her reportages and editorials on Nepal’s Maoist war and peace process. Previously she wrote A Boy from Siklis, a biography of her mentor, the groundbreaking environmentalist Chandra Gurung. Forget Kathmandu is her personal account of Nepal’s history and current affairs, with reportage on the Maoist insurgency. It was praised by Newsweek as “deeply moving and very funny,” and was a finalist in the Lettre Ulysses Award in 2006. Manjushree’s first book was a travelogue to villages near Nepal’s border with Tibet, Mustang Bhot in Fragments.
Her short stories have appeared in US and South Asian literary magazines, and she wrote a story for Girl Rising, a film about girls from around the world by Academy Award-nominated director Richard E. Robbins. Her story about Suma, a former slave girl who liberates other girls like her, was narrated by actor Kerry Washington.
Manjushree’s essays and editorials have appeared in New York Times, London Review of Books, Newsweek, Globe and Mail , and other publications in the US, UK, Canada, India and Nepal. Her books have been translated into French, German, Finnish, Italian, Japanese and Nepali.
As a literary translator she has edited and introduced a selection of Nepali literature for Words Without Borders. She translated stories and poems by 49 Nepali writers in The Country is Yours. She co-edited, introduced and translated Nepali literature in Secret Places: New Writing from Nepal , and she translated a collection of short stories by Nepali writer Ramesh Vikal in A Leaf in a Begging Bowl.
Manjushree has lectured at Cornell University, University of Toronto, National Gallery of Canada, National University of Singapore, College of the Holy Cross, New School, University of California Long Beach, Duke University, School of Oriental and African Studies and elsewhere. She has appeared at literary events such the Toronto International Book Festival, Jaipur Literature Festival, Mukkula Writers’ Reunion and Melbourne Writers' Festival.
She has received grants from the Toronto Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts, who awarded her Joseph S Stauffer prize in 2008. She reported on women in Nepal’s Maoist war with a grant from the Centre for Investigative Journalism in Kathmandu, and received a Fulbright fellowship to study creative writing. She has also been awarded residencies from the Writers’ Trust of Canada, the Goethe Institute, Hedgebrook, Ragdale, the Espy Foundation and UNESCO Aschberg Bursaries.
In addition to working as a columnist in the past, Manjushree has researched and written for aid and non-government organizations in Nepal. She has designed and run writing and translation workshops and has been involved in a number of cultural and intellectual institutions such as Himal, Martin Chautari and Gallery Nine in Kathmandu, and the Toronto Nepali Film Festival in Toronto.
Before she became a writer she was the project manager of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project’s office in Lo Monthang, Mustang, and as the Picture Editor of Himal in Kathmandu. During this time she was witness to the revolution in political consciousness that followed Nepal’s transition to democracy 1990. Her early experience in Nepal has informed much of her later writing.
Manjushree received a Master of Fine Arts in English (Fiction) at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied with Maya Sonenberg, Shawn Wong, David Shields and Charles Johnson. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, and a high school degree from National Cathedral School in Washington, DC.
She was born in Kathmandu, and raised in Nepal, Canada and the United States. Her family also lived in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Switzerland and India at various periods. She lives in Toronto.