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Memorable books by R.K. Narayan

Malgudi Days

Malgudi Days is a collection of short stories involving incidents and experiences in the life of the people of this fictional city named Malguidi that remains central to all of Narayan's works. Once again, the stories are not meant to convey something overly profound or insightful but a mere narration of short-lived experiences that in themselves contribute to the realisation of the subtleties of Indian life.

Malgudi, a small South Indian town provides the setting for almost all of Narayan's novels and short stories. Malgudi, of course, does not exist. It is for Narayan, just as Wessex is for Thomas Hardy or Yoknapatawpha for William Faulkner, an imaginary landscape inhabited by the unique characters of his stories.

In Narayan's words himself: "Malgudi was an earth-shaking discovery for me, because I had no mind for facts and things like that, which would be necessary in writing about Malgudi or any real place. I first pictured not my town but just the railway station, which was a small platform with a Banyan tree, a station master, and two trains a day, one coming and one going. On Vijayadasami I sat down and wrote the first sentence about my town: The train had just arrived in Malgudi Station. "

In the words of A. Hariprasanna: "Narayan creates his fictional world of Malgudi as an essentially Indian society or town. The Indian-ness and Indian sensibility pervaded the whole place. Narayan's Malgudi is also a microcosm of India. It grows and develops and expands and changes, and is full of humanity, drawing its sustenance from the human drama and is enacted in it."

My Days: A Memoir

My Days: A memoir, is an autobiography of R.K. Narayan. Unlike his other texts which normally utilise a fictional setting with fictional characters, the book involves true characters that Narayan met in his lifetime, his perspective on these people and how it influenced his writing styles.

My Days is a beautifully compiled book that would otherwise seem like any other of Narayan's novels, until one realises that its an actual narration of his life and his childhood. For an avid Narayan fan, the book truly brings to life how each one of us at some point or the other has had experiences which at the time may have seemed negligible but in time when he think back of our past, they seem to be the only incidents we recall in their truest spirit.

A wonderful book, imbibing a unique sense of nostalgia that is distinct for all its readers.

The Ramayana

Released in 1972, an English translation of the ancient Indian epic of Ramayana. R.K. Narayan, uniquely blends in his simple writing style with the subtleties and intricacies of one the most widely read Indian epics. The story is rewritten in a more modern perspective in order to draw on its similarities and dissimilarities with modern Indian society.

The Ramayana is the story of Lord Rama, who was exiled for 14 years along with his wife Sita and his younger brother, Lakshman who accompanied his elder brother in the spirit of his duty to take care of his brother and sister-in-law. While in exile, numerous events and encounters of Lord Rama with caravans, priests, warriors, demons are what eventually contribute to the epic. In the latter half of the epic, Sita is kidnapped by the king of demons, Ravana. The story then elaborates on Rama's anger and his vow to get his wife back from the Ravana, which eventually leads to a battle between the two. While Ravana, as king is backed by his kingdom and his army, Rama who's in exile is accompanied by his younger brother, an army of monkeys, the monkey god Hanuman. Rama who in ancient Indian tradition is beleived to be a reincarnation of Visnu eventually returns to his kingdom with Sita and Lakshman.

The beauty of the novel lies not in the numerous events that happen towards Rama's completion of his exile and his effort to get his wife back. A wonderful read, while reflecting on Indian culture and value systems.

The Guide

The Guide is one of R.K. Narayan's most interesting books which begins as a comic look at the life of a rogue, but evolves into something quite different. In a fairly compact and concise manner the book conveys the numerous aspects of the day to day lives of India people. The different culture systems, the superstitions and values of the people of a small town named Malgudi serve as a reflection on Indian society altogether.

The main character of the story is Raju, who is also the narrator of the story. He starts with a description of his life as a kid, his experiences, his education. The story intertwines a series of experiences as a kid and as an adult that eventually lead to Raju's becoming a rogue, his imprisonment and his life thereafter. One starts out with the belief of Raju as a thief and a criminal and then ends with the reader in sympathy for the Raju. The guide refers to his profession as a guide for the villagers and the foreigners when they come to this small town.

Compiled by Star Literary Desk

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