Dr. Kay Traille
Running from the Dreamland is Tulasi Acharya’s debut novel written in English that explores the lives of Nepali immigrants living in the United States. The novel provides a glimpse into the challenges and complexities faced by international students and also the Nepali community. This novel tells the story of a young man who returns to Nepal after realizing the importance of his country and his own happiness. It highlights the cultural differences experienced by Nepalis living abroad and sheds light on various other aspects that one must know.
The story deals with various themes such as immigration, cultural differences, identity, and the struggles of navigating a new country. Acharya’s writing is engaging and poignant, offering insights into the experiences of immigrants that are often overlooked in mainstream literature.
The novel begins with the scene of the graduation ceremony at Georgia University in the United States. The eyes of Dipak, who had been observing Malisa, begin to create curiosity at the beginning of the novel. Dipak, like many migrants, had come to the United States, the land of dreams, with a lot of hopes and expectations but the expectations clashed with realities that were eye-opening.
The novel closely examines the conflict between expectations and reality in human life. Even though it touches upon this issue only briefly, it manages to capture its true essence and begins with a character who spends a significant amount of time in contemplation. After reading just 15-20 pages, readers may find themselves deeply immersed in Dipak’s experience. When Dipak’s mother falls ill and he is forced to send money back to Nepal, readers are taken through a vivid depiction of financial hardship and the clash between two cultures. Ultimately, Dipak’s experiences of illness and personal development leave a lasting impression on the reader.
The love between Lucas and Vanessa is another theme of the novel. Deepak and Malisa’s love appears like a shadow in front of their love. However, none of the couples becomes successful in its love quests for vastly different reasons. Another powerful theme of the novel is the American dream especially the way the novelist has shown how it is different from the way it is often portrayed universally. The American dream is an idyllic image bolstered by different forms of worldwide media and not exactly the way many think, and it has so many other stories beneath it. The novel also presents the distortion of American society and the presentation of capitalism that at times is devoid of humanity. The novel’s climax centers on the flaws of capitalism when Dipak is attacked by the dregs of society on the streets. When Dipak vents his frustrations, we read a commentary on capitalism.
Overall, Running from the Dreamland is a thought-provoking and moving story that sheds light on the experiences of Nepali immigrants, especially international students living in the United States. It is a must-read book for anyone interested in exploring the immigrant experience and the complexities of cultural confrontations.
International students face a wide range of challenges when they arrive in the US, from cultural differences and language barriers to financial constraints and academic pressures. In many cases, they are required to navigate complex immigration laws and regulations and adjust to a new educational system that may be very different from what they are accustomed to. For Dipak and other international students, the process of adapting to life in the US can be a daunting and isolating experience. They may struggle to make new friends or find their place in a new social environment, and while doing so, they may feel homesick or disconnected from their families and cultural traditions. Financial issues can also be a significant source of stress for such students. They may face high tuition costs and limited opportunities for part-time work, and they may have to rely on scholarships or loans to pay for their education and living expenses.
Despite these challenges, many international students find ways to thrive and succeed in the US. They may develop close friendships with other students, find support through campus resources and community organizations, and use their experiences as a way to build resilience and adaptability. While the challenges they face can be significant, they also have the opportunity to learn and grow in ways that may not have been possible in their home countries.
Despite being a brilliant story, the novel could have been even more impressive if the love between Dipak and Melissa had been explored further. The writing is beautiful and powerful. However, it could have been edited one more time to iron out tiny flaws that persist, through they do not detract the readers from this beautifully crafted novel.
(Dr. Traille is a professor of History of Education at Kennesaw State University, USA. She is the author of two books including Hearing Their Voices.)