RK 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:
Swami and Friends
The Bachelor of Arts
The English Teacher ❤
A Tiger for Malgudi
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.