Book Review: Malgudi Days… by Yokibu Editorial
Posted on: July 11, 2018. Comments ( 1 )

My review is about the famous book Malgudi Days but before I begin, did you know that the author of the book is “Rasipuram Krishnaswami Ayyar Narayanaswami”?

Are you surprised by this name and thinking “Who’s that?” or “I’ve never heard of that name before!” Yes. One of my colleagues asked me the same question that left me perplexed. I replied saying that I wasn’t familiar with that name, and subsequently, it was only after my colleague handed me a copy of Malgudi Days “by R. K. Narayan” that realization dawned on me. Rasipuram Krishnaswami Ayyar Narayanaswami is abridged as R. K. Narayan. Interestingly, it was author Graham Greene who had suggested this abridged name when Swami and Friends was being published.

Only recently did I read the book, but I could instantly recall those memories, from over 30 years ago down till 12 years ago. I’d watched and been thoroughly enthralled by all 54 episodes of the television series adaptation of the book—a collection of 32 stories centred around the fictional town of Malgudi in South India—that was broadcast in Doordarshan “DD” Television. The opening episode started sometime in early 1987 and then throughout the 1990’s till 2006. The eagerness shown in watching “Malgudi Days” on TV was no less in adults than in children.

Two collections of R. K. Narayan’s An Astrologer’s Days (16 stories) and Lawley Road (8 stories), and eight new stories, were merged to produce a collection of 32 short stories consequently titled Malgudi Days. None of the stories are interrelated or even influenced by each other. It is the fictional town of Malgudi, however, that associates these stories with it, and thus with each other. Malgudi, an imaginary yet lively and vibrant town, is the author’s creative brainchild.

There was everything in Malgudi that a proper city should have: a little post office, a grocery shop, Town Hall Park, a vendor selling fried groundnuts, an astrologer with his cowrie shells and paraphernalia, the Vinayak Mudali Street with four parallel streets, City X-Ray Institute at Race Course Road etc. Even as you read through the stories in Malgudi Days, you can actually picture yourself transported through the streets of a full-fledged city, making it difficult to shake off the feeling that you have lived in this town.

Simple, city folk whom you come across in real life every day, lend their characters and breathe life to these stories. There are neither small rulers ruled by more powerful kings, nor larger-than-life heroes trying to save beautiful damsels in distress, pursued by intimidating villains. R. K. Narayan would only be writing about—

….one of those commonplace dogs one sees everywhere – colour of white and dust, tail mutilated at a young age…. bred on leavings and garbage of the marketplace….

Or Kannan who “…sat at the door of his hut and watched the village go its way. Sami the oil-monger… coming up the street driving his ox before him….

Or Thanappa the Postman on his bicycle, pedalling furiously down one of the streets.

However, the reader is aesthetically made aware of their presence by virtue of their lively, realistic characterizations, just extraordinary in their manners, and the central character faces some kind of crisis in life and either resolves it or lives with it, all communicated with the extraordinary ordinariness of most human happiness”, as quoted by acclaimed novelist Stephen King—a comprehensive style so typical of R. K. Narayan which shows how closely he observes life! Nothing does he miss. Nothing that others would perceive as “too small” and “too insignificant” fails to make its way into his writing. He turns his characters into living entities, breathing life into them with the way he handles their characterization and journey.

Stories that feature in Malgudi Days and the characters it portrays that could be found in most parts of the world, would appeal to readers across the globe for its uniqueness and relatability in each of our everyday lives. Each story will leave a lasting impression on you, making you realize how only very few authors can capture human emotions in such a beautiful way.

Have you read this book too? If you have, did you like it? If not, was this review genuine enough to inspire you to read it? Eager to read your comments on this review or of the book itself.

 

About the author:

R. K. Narayan was born in 1906 in Madras, and later graduated from Maharaja’s College in Mysore. He published his first novel Swami and Friends in 1935 at the age of 29, and subsequently went on to publish numerous novels, five collections of short stories, two travel books, four collections of essays, a memoir, and some translations of Indian epics and myths.

Malgudi Days is widely considered to be R. K. Narayan’s most prominent and popular book, though many of his literary contributions are instantly recognized, widely acclaimed and genuinely adored. “R. K. Narayan” is a household name in most Indian families all over the world.

The highly illustrious and famous cartoonist R. K. Laxman is the author’s brother.


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Comments (1)

 

  1.  
    Shalini Agarwal says:

    Very well written review that inspires one to read it at least once.


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