Between Queens and the Cities is the riveting tale of a 19-year-old Nepali gay man and his long journey from Kathmandu to New York and back. Set against the backdrop of contemporary Nepal, the author reveals, with elan and ease, queer spaces where friendships are fostered outside the normalcy accorded to family and marriage. In the process, he introduces many fellow travellers of the LGBTIQ community. With rare courage and outrageous emotional honesty, the author lays bare the ceaseless conﬂict of the mind and heart in exploring sexuality. He also compels the reader to interrogate dominant notions regarding love and longing and in doing so, reveals dynamic relationships that are not conﬁned to the realm of queer intimacy alone. This memoir on the shaping of queer identity in the South Asian context bristles with deeper questions regarding belonging.
Between Queens and the Cities is Niranjan Kunwar’s tender account of coming of age as a gay man in Nepal. With great honesty and thoughtfulness, Kunwar writes of the constraints of his society and the heady freedoms he enjoyed abroad in his quest for self-discovery. Though the story he tells is personal, it also portrays a society that is finally learning, in this generation, to accept queer identities. By showing us how he negotiated a life for himself, Kunwar helps queer Nepalis reimagine their lives anew. He also shows all of us Nepali society as we have never seen it before: young, dynamic, open, and urbane. There is hope yet for social change.
A wistful assemblage of words, images, and emotions. Bold, and insightful. In this first gay memoir from Nepal, Niranjan Kunwar walks us through the dusty streets of Kathmandu but also gives us glimpses of a rustic New England college town and the noisy streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A tale about unwritten friendships, heartbreaks, and yearnings, Kunwar’s story is that of a young man’s journey across two continents to find himself. A coming out and coming to terms tale framed within major events such as the 2001 attacks in New York and the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal, this book is at once uniquely Nepali and also a universal saga of a search for home.
Between Queens and the Cities is not only a coming of age story of an individual, but also depicts the genesis of a public consciousness of sexuality altogether. Kunwar's beautiful and textured storytelling makes the argument that queer stories are universal and speak to larger questions of the human condition: longing, belonging, heartbreak, and self-acceptance. This, and so much more, makes this book a must read for those of us invested in stories of queer South Asia -- no, contemporary South Asian culture writ large.
– Alok Vaid-Menon, Author, Beyond the Gender Binary
Niranjan Kunwar’s memoir is a moving account of a young Nepali’s intimately personal and literary journey, across continents, as he nurtures his queer identity. Between Queens and the Cities is a brave book. It exposes the deeply entrenched beliefs that marginalize—and often brutalize—sexual minorities. It provides hope and courage to thousands of South Asians who battle discrimination on a daily basis. Most important: it’s a beautifully written book that aﬃrms the enduring power of love, and of art, to create meaning—and to heal.
Seto Dharti : English Translation