Swami and Friends
“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
Offering rare insight into the complexities of Indian middle-class society, R. K. Narayan traces life in the fictional town of Malgudi. The Dark Room is a searching look at a difficult marriage and a woman who eventually rebels against the demands of being a good and obedient wife. In Mr. Sampath, a newspaper man tries to keep his paper afloat in the face of social and economic changes sweeping India. Narayan writes of youth and young adulthood in the semiautobiographical Swami and Friends and The Bachelor of Arts. Although the ordinary tensions of maturing are heightened by the particular circumstances of pre-partition India, Narayan provides a universal vision of childhood, early love and grief.
“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 a green twilight."—Margaret Parton, New York Herald Tribune
“The novels of R.K. Narayan are the best I have read in any language for a long time. . . . His work gives the conviction that it is possible to capture in English, a language not born of India, the distinctive characteristics of Indian family life."—Amit Roy, Daily Telegraph