New Book Announcement: “The In-Betweeners” by Khem K Aryal

The In-Betweeners: Stories, Khem K Aryal (Braddock Avenue Books, October 2023)
The In-Betweeners: Stories, Khem K Aryal (Braddock Avenue Books, October 2023)

The stories in Khem K Aryal’s new collection present a deeply human perspective on the travails—and triumphs—of a group of Nepalese immigrants struggling with the consequences of their decision to come to America. Having been told that immigration to the US would lead to a decent and fulfilling life, they one by one discover that the truth is hardly so simple. Arriving in the US at a time when the culture wars are raging, many of Aryal’s characters confront a reality that often reduces their individuality to stereotypes and their personal journey to little more than political fodder.

In “Shopping for Glasses” a man suffering from chronic headaches follows a recommendation to get new glasses only to discover that the kind of personalized attention he customarily received in Nepal is nowhere to be found amid the cold calculus of American consumerism. In “Laxman Sir in America” a family man who had been a well-respected teacher in Nepal sees his sense of professional self-worth vanish into the hectic rhythms of an Amazon fulfillment center while at home this once loving father and spouse is torn apart by a growing estrangement from his own family as they manage to find more successful ways of adjusting. And in “Mrs. Sharma’s Halloween” a woman visiting her children and grandchildren at their new house in the U.S. watches with growing despair as she comes to understand that their emigration has been at the cost of traditional ways when it is clear that they will not return to Nepal to care for her in old age.

In stories that reveal the heartrending ambivalence of not being part of a new culture while being unable to return to the old, Aryal’s The In-Betweeners forms a compelling portrait of the price we pay in pursuit of our dreams.


The In-Betweeners: Stories by Khem K Aryal
Braddock Avenue Books (October 2023)