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. 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. This novel, written after India's independence, is a masterpiece of social comedy, rich in local color and abounding in affectionate humor and generosity of spirit.
"The novelist I most admire in the English language.” –Graham Greene
“Few writers since Dickens can match the effect of colorful teeming that Narayan’s fictional city of Malgudi conveys.” –John Updike
“The hardest of all things for a novelist to communicate is the extraordinary ordinariness of most human happiness…Jane Austen, Soseki, Chekhov: a few bring it off. Narayan is one of them.” –The Spectator
“The experience of reading one of his novels is…comparable to one’s first reaction to the great Russian novels: the fresh realization of the common humanity of all peoples, underlain by a simultaneous sense of strangeness–like one’s own reflection seen in green twilight.” –New York Herald Tribune Book Review
“Narayan is a writer of Gogol’s stature, with the same gift for creating a provincial atmosphere in a time of change…One is convincingly involved in this alien world without ever being aware of the technical devices Narayan so brilliantly employs.” –The New Yorker