In the novels of R. K. Narayan (1906-2001), the forefather of modern Indian fiction, human-scale hopes and epiphanies express the promise of a nation as it awakens to its place in the world. The three novels brought together in this volume, all written after India’s independence, are masterpieces of social comedy, rich in local color and abounding in affectionate humor and generosity of spirit.
Mr. Sampath–The Printer of Malgudi is the story of a businessman who adapts to the collapse of his weekly newspaper by shifting to screenplays, only to have the glamour of it all go to his head. In The Financial Expert, a man of many hopes but few resources spends his time under a banyan tree dispensing financial advice to those willing to pay for his knowledge. In Waiting for the Mahatma, a young drifter meets the most beautiful girl he has ever seen–an adherent of Mahatma Gandhi–and commits himself to Gandhi’s Quit India campaign, a decision that will test the integrity of his ideals against the strength of his passions.
As charming as they are compassionate, these novels provide an indelible portrait of India in the twentieth century.
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
A novelist of little things
India has long occupied a special place in the imagination of outsiders. It is in every sense an astonishing country - a country which is immensely rich in history, which is inhabited by the most remarkable and engaging people, and which holds within its boundaries virtually every type of landscape one might care to contemplate, from Rajasthan deserts to high Himalayan snowfields. For those who are smitten by India - and their number is legion - there is a rich body of literature in English with which to nurture this passion. One might pass a lifetime in a library of Indian memoirs, topography, history, religion, and philosophy, and, of course, fiction. And on those fiction shelves one would come across, in pride of place, the novels of R. K. Narayan, all well-loved short books with beguiling titles (how
could one resist a book called The Vendor of Sweets ?), and each of them a delightful window into the world that is India. Who was
he, this scholarly-looking man with his heavy-framed spectacles and his air of intense concentration? Why are his books so
cherished and admired by enthusiasts in so many countries?