RK Narayan Readalong: The World of Nagaraj

Nagaraj was sitting on the pyol, spending the evening as usual looking at the coconut trees with crows retiring for the night. Before repairing to the trees they assembled on the roof of the tall house in the opposite row. Scores of them flew down and perched like schoolchildren under the supervision of a convent sister. The crows argued a lot among themselves and hopped and shifted about before dispersing. Nagaraj always felt a fascination for this evening activity of the crows, and wished he knew the language of birds as did the kings of folklore. The crows probably have a leader who allots them treetops for the night and they argue and debate about it before coming to a decision. The leader would probably be saying, “Don’t you see the sky is reddening? Hurry up, darkness will soon be upon us, and remember we are not human being who light lamps for their night life…”

IMG_20160503_155207RK Narayan’s characters pay attention to beautiful, little things in life. That is one of the reasons why I adore his books. The World of Nagaraj, just like every other book of RK Narayan, is replete with such people. They find the extra-ordinaries in the ordinaries.

The World of Nagaraj, as the title suggests, revolves around Nagaraj. The man in his 50’s harbours a dream — to write a book on the great sage Narada. He talks to people from all walks of life in Malgudi to collect material for his book. Much to his dismay, nobody knows about Narada well.

Just when he is disheartened about his book, his nephew Tim chooses to live with Nagaraj and his wife. Nagaraj, who is a creature of habits and who derives immense pleasure from leading slow, relaxed life, is forced to look after his mischievous nephew. Nagaraj’s life begins to be eventful.

Tim marries a singer. The young girl practises Hindi songs every morning, when Nagaraj tries hard to write on his book. The man cannot confront. He cannot tell the girl that she must stop practising awful songs during his time. Because of his inability to communicate and confront, he loses his peace of mind.

Besides becoming eventful, Nagaraj’s life loses its rhythm. Everything goes haywire. He has to discipline Tim, prove to his brother that he didn’t let Tim go astray, ask Tim’s wife to be quiet during his writing hours, and manage to write his book on Narada.

Many a time, I was reminded of PG Wodehouse’s stories. Nagaraj is reminiscent of Bertie Wooster. His wife Sita rescues him often, quite like Jeeves. And the plot becomes thicker and thicker, just like in Wodehouse’s book.

Unlike Wodehouse’s stories, everything doesn’t end well in The World of Nagaraj. But the mood of the book doesn’t change. It stays true to its theme till the end, even when Nagaraj gets mired in more responsibilities.

The World of Nagaraj is for the readers, who like slow, funny, and warm books.

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10 thoughts on “RK Narayan Readalong: The World of Nagaraj

  1. Wonderful review! you’re absolutely right about Narayan’s characters finding the extra-ordinary in the ordinary. I’ve just finished my Narayan book – ‘Swami and friends’ in the nick of time, so i’ll be posting up something for the readalong tomorrow. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review of this book.

    The novel sounds very appealing for a lot of reasons. One is that the themes of lack of communication and hesitancy to confront issues are human qualities that often make for compelling literature. I think that one reason that we read is to examine these issues through the eyes of others.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I feel for the poor man not being able to confront his problems and losing his peace of mind. I also dislike confrontation, and often put other people’s needs and wants before my own. Maybe I should read this book! 😉

    The stories are nothing alike, I’m sure, but what you say about Narayan’s characters paying attention to the little things in life makes me think about L.M. Montgomery’s books. I think that’s why I love her books so much – I find them comforting.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh I do love the sound of this one, too! And I only read 1 Narayan so far, but have noticed he has this way of making the ordinary shine 🙂 Also, it is funny but the first few chapters reminded me of Wodehouse as well, of course then made heart was broken in The English Teacher. But perhaps I need some Wodehouse to cheer me up 😉 So glad you encouraged me and many more to read Narayan, Deepika 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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