Francis King, Spectator
Waiting for the Mahatmaby R. K. Narayan
"R.K. Narayan . . . has been compared to Gogol in England, where he has acquired a well-deserved reputation. The comparison is apt, for Narayan, an Indian, is a writer of Gogol's stature, with the same gift for creating a provincial atmosphere in a time of change. . . . One is convincingly involved in this alien world without ever being aware of the technical
"R.K. Narayan . . . has been compared to Gogol in England, where he has acquired a well-deserved reputation. The comparison is apt, for Narayan, an Indian, is a writer of Gogol's stature, with the same gift for creating a provincial atmosphere in a time of change. . . . One is convincingly involved in this alien world without ever being aware of the technical devices Narayan so brilliantly employs."—Anthony West, The New Yorker
"The experience of reading one of his novels is . . . comparable to one's first reaction to the great Russian novels: the fresh realization of the common humanity of all peoples, underlain by a simultaneous sense of strangeness—like one's own reflection seen in a green twilight."—Margaret Parton, New Herald Tribune Book Review
"The hardest of all things for a novelist to communicate is the extraordinary ordinariness of most human happiness. . . . Jane Austen, Soseki, Chekhov: a few bring it off. Narayan is one of them."—Francis King, Spectator
"The novels of R.K. Narayan are the best I have read in any language for a long time."—Amit Roy, Daily Telegraph
Francis King, Spectator
Anthony West, The New Yorker
Margaret Parton, New York Herald Tribune Book Review
Amit Roy, Daily Telegraph
- Michigan State University Press
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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.