R. K. Narayan (1906—2001) witnessed nearly a century of change in his native India and captured it in fiction of uncommon warmth and vibrancy. The title character in The English Teacher, Narayan’s most autobiographical novel, searches for meaning when the death of his young wife deprives him of his greatest source of happiness. This pioneering novel, luminous in its detail and refreshingly free of artifice, is a gift to twentieth-century literature.
"There are writers–Tolstoy and Henry James to name two–whom we hold in awe, writers–Turgenev and Chekhov–for whom we feel a personal affection, other writers whom we respect–Conrad for example–but who hold us at a long arm’s length with their ‘courtly foreign grace.’ Narayan (whom I don’t hesitate to name in such a context) more than any of them wakes in me a spring of gratitude, for he has offered me a second home. Without him I could never have known what it is like to be Indian.” –Graham Greene
“[The English Teacher is] an idyll as delicious as anything I have met in modern literature for a long time. The atmosphere and texture of happiness, and, above all, its elusiveness, have seldom been so perfectly transcribed.” –Elizabeth Bowen
“Narayan’s humour and compassion come from a deep universal well, with the result that he has transformed his imaginary township of Malgudi into a bubbling parish of the world.” –The Observer
“The first writer of his kind…A more accurate guide to modern India than the intellectually more ambitious writers of recent years.” –Pankaj Mishra, The New York Review of Books.