RK Narayan Readalong

1305302RK Narayan is one of my favourite Indian authors. While many of us have read contemporary Indian authors, I understand from my recent conversations with friends here, that some of us haven’t read RK Narayan yet. A kind friend wrote to me asking if I would be happy to host a readalong. As I am still toying with the idea, I want to ask you if you would love to participate in a readalong.

About RK Narayan: (Thanks to Wikipedia)
“Narayan’s writing technique was unpretentious with a natural element of humour about it. It focused on ordinary people, reminding the reader of next-door neighbours, cousins and the like, thereby providing a greater ability to relate to the topic. Unlike his national contemporaries, he was able to write about the intricacies of Indian society without having to modify his characteristic simplicity to conform to trends and fashions in fiction writing. He also employed the use of nuanced dialogic prose with gentle Tamil overtones based on the nature of his characters. Critics have considered Narayan to be the Indian Chekhov, due to the similarities in their writings, the simplicity and the gentle beauty and humour in tragic situations. Greene considered Narayan to be more similar to Chekhov than any Indian writer. Anthony West of The New Yorker considered Narayan’s writings to be of the realism variety of Nikolai Gogol.

According to Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri, Narayan’s short stories have the same captivating feeling as his novels, with most of them less than ten pages long, and taking about as many minutes to read. She adds that between the title sentence and the end, Narayan provides the reader something novelists struggle to achieve in hundreds more pages: a complete insight to the lives of his characters. These characteristics and abilities led Lahiri to classify him as belonging to the pantheon of short-story geniuses that include O. Henry, Frank O’Connor and Flannery O’Connor. Lahiri also compares him to Guy de Maupassant for their ability to compress the narrative without losing the story, and the common themes of middle-class life written with an unyielding and unpitying vision.

Critics have noted that Narayan’s writings tend to be more descriptive and less analytical; the objective style, rooted in a detached spirit, providing for a more authentic and realistic narration. His attitude, coupled with his perception of life, provided a unique ability to fuse characters and actions, and an ability to use ordinary events to create a connection in the mind of the reader. A significant contributor to his writing style was his creation of Malgudi, a stereotypical small town, where the standard norms of superstition and tradition apply.

Narayan’s writing style was often compared to that of William Faulkner since both their works brought out the humour and energy of ordinary life while displaying compassionate humanism. The similarities also extended to their juxtaposing of the demands of society against the confusions of individuality. Although their approach to subjects was similar, their methods were different; Faulkner was rhetorical and illustrated his points with immense prose while Narayan was very simple and realistic, capturing the elements all the same.”

Books that we can read together:
The Guide
Malgudi Days
Swami and Friends
The Bachelor of Arts
The English Teacher ❤
A Tiger for Malgudi

Tentative schedule:
Sometime in May

You may choose to read one book, or devour all of it. 🙂

What do you think of this idea? Would you be interested to read/read again RK Narayan? Will the book be available in your library/nearest bookstore/Amazon? Please let me know. Many thanks. 🙂

I will write another post with more details after I hear from you all.

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54 thoughts on “RK Narayan Readalong

  1. I would LOVE this. It would be wonderful if we could donate the whole month to Narayan. I will be doing some traveling during the month, but would still be able to participate somewhat. I am so happy that you are suggesting this terrific idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have not read RK Narayan but I have wanted to for some time. I have heard such good things about him.

    Though I have a few reading commitments already scheduled I will try to join you in this event.

    Thanks for hosting it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Deepika…
    Because of you I have read about him. I would love to read one of his books, too, and The English Teacher sounds fascinating. All of his works seem to be much loved. I am looking for him on Overdrive but so far nothing…I can find copies at Amazon…so I will try!
    Take care!

    Like

  4. YES! Please host the readalong, it sounds fantastic!!! 🙂 I am looking forward to the book you picked ❤ but I will get any other of his books, no problem!! Since I haven’t read any of his works I’m happy you brought Narayan to my attention and all titles work for me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am intrigued by this idea. I checked my library and we have two of the books you listed – Malgudi Days and A Tiger for Malgudi. And we have others that you didn’t list. I may join you! Thank you for possibly hosting this, it sounds awesome. If I don’t join, I will definitely put him on my list and read him sometime!

    Also, I just followed you on Twitter. ( I’m @rosewatercandy.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Laila. I am very glad to hear that your library has got these. Of course, you may read any book of RK Narayan. I will post another blog, a proper one on the event, in a few days. Many thanks once again. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My book blogging friend Vishy sent me a lovely Everyman’s Library edition a few years ago that included three of the titles listed above (and a fourth, The Dark Room). I liked Narayan’s writing so much that I went out and purchased a second collection containing three more novels. One of those had “Malgudi” in the title but I don’t think it’s one you mentioned in this post. The Printer of Malgudi, maybe.

    I’ll check the stores to see if I can find some of the titles on your list that I haven’t read yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, M_____l. Vishy is so thoughtful. We both live in the same city. I am so glad he sent you that lovely book.

      Vishy, and I like ‘The English Teacher’ so much. If you haven’t read that, we can read that together too. 🙂 Thank you for the comment.

      Like

  7. I think this would be fun, Deepika! My library doesn’t have any of his books (boo), and our ILL system is out of service for a few months, but it sounds like you have lots of other readers, and I am more than happy to follow along. I’ll have a good idea which one to read for next time! Have fun with it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I recall his stories and books through a thickening mist of years passed. I was presented A Tiger for Malgudi as a farewell gift in 1987, though I can’t recall any of it now. “An Astrologer’s Day” is fresh in my mind because of the thrill and suspense. Swamy & Friends was something I could identify with and relate to my childhood days – it was similar to Tom Sawyer’s adventures, but with an Indian flavour to it. Reading them lulled one with the complacent satisfaction that comes with familiarity of the commonplace.
    I don’t have any of his books with me now; I’ll see if I can manage to get one. I haven’t read The English Teacher, or at least it eludes my memory. Since you’re hearting that title I might give it a try.
    *Thinking aloud* I wonder if somebody would care to present it. 😛
    PS: Lovely write-up about RKN – next best thing to reading a favourite author is to read
    about them. It evoked pleasant memories of reading short stories of Chekov, Gogol (Evenings near Dikanka) and other titles by Russian authors (Have you read Barankin’s Fantasy World?). O Henry was of course the master of the short story and one of the most prolific of his times – who can forget the sad but sweet The Last Leaf and the tragicomic The Gift of the Magi. Maupassant’s The Necklace.with its gripping narrative and twist ending is also unforgettable. Your write-up started me on a nostalgic trip. *sigh* Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was my from Wikipedia, OT. 😀

      I am going to read all of them. Your comment was wonderful. Thank you.

      By the way, I still haven’t mailed ‘Wild’. I will send ‘The English Teacher’ along with it. Please don’t buy. And, I hope you are still in that mysterious place. 😉

      Like

  9. Hell yeah! I read ‘Mr Sampath – The Printer of Malgudi’ for my book group and it was dazzling. I’d love the opportunity to read more, so count me in. I’ll probably only manage one, but it’s a great idea! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sure. Thank you. So, I am thinking of hosting the readalong from May 1st to May 15th. During when, you may read one book, or how many ever you like to read. You may tweet about it, Instragam it, and write a blog about it. That is really. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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