Francis King, Spectator
Waiting for the Mahatmaby R. K. Narayan
In the novels of R. K. Narayan (1906-2001), the forefather of modern Indian fiction, human-scale hopes and epiphanies express the promise of a nation as it awakens to its place in the world. In Waiting for the Mahatma, a young drifter meets the most beautiful girl he has ever seen–an adherent of Mahatma Gandhi–and commits himself to Gandhi’s Quit India campaign, a decision that will test the integrity of his ideals against the strength of his passions. This novel, written after India's independence, is a masterpiece of social comedy, rich in local color and abounding in affectionate humor and generosity of spirit.
Francis King, Spectator
Anthony West, The New Yorker
Margaret Parton, New York Herald Tribune Book Review
Amit Roy, Daily Telegraph
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Meet the Author
R. K. Narayan (1906–2001) was one of the most prominent Indian novelists of the twentieth century. Most of his stories are set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi, a place that Narayan populated with numerous characters. He was the recipient of many awards for his work including the National Prize of the Indian Literary Academy, India's highest literary honor. In 1980 he was awarded the AC Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature, of which he was an honorary member and in 1982 he was elected an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
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In this book R.K. Narayan has used the freedom struggle as a backdrop against which we observe the life of the main protagonists, Sriram and Bharati. Sriram's character is very well etched out with common human failings and emotions. While taking a look into Sriram's life and love for Bharati (who is a freedom fighter and Satyagrahi following in the Mahatma's footsteps) we get a glimpse of the conflicting ideologies of Subhash Chandra Bose and Gandhiji. To his credit R.K. Narayan never appears to be opinionating on any of them. Excellent reading for someone interested in exploring post-colonial Indian writing.
R K Narayan holds the reader spellbound with another tale set in his favorite Malgudi. The story revolves around Sriram, a grandma's boy who is pulled into the Indian freedom struggle, not through any notions of patriotism or idealism, but simply because he falls in love with Bharati, a girl who works with Mahatma Gandhi. He doggedly pursues his dream mate, unwittingly playing a strong role in the independence movement. Although the story is about Sriram and Bharati, the personality of the Mahatma is characterized so beautifully that he too becomes one of the central characters. Gently rebuking India's laid-back attitude of ignorance, selfishness and subservience, R K Narayan weaves a magical world in this book, which I simply could not put down.