Five authors talk about their favourite RK Narayan book

On RK Narayan’s birthday on October 10, we asked five authors to tell us about their favourite book by him

books Updated: Oct 10, 2017 11:55 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
RK Narayan,Kankana Basu,Jerry Pinto
In a writing career spread over 60 years, RK Narayan wrote over 30 books, including short story collections and novels such as Swami and Friends (1935) and The Guide (1958) for which he won the Sahitya Akademi Award.(Wikimedia Commons)

We asked five authors about their favourite book by RK Narayan. Here’s what they said:

Kankana Basu

Malgudi Days (1942). The laid back ambience of a sleepy town in south India, the antics of the precocious Swami and the mesh of familial and neighbourly relationships make the collection a timeless read. If one is frazzled by the tempo of the 21st century (which is very often!) there is nothing like going back to the book repeatedly. It opens a portal to another time, another place where life was unhurried, delightful and filled with love. Malgudi Days is my favourite destination when the urge to escape the real world is pressingly strong.

Jerry Pinto

By a long chalk, Swami and Friends (1935). I have never read an Indian account of a childhood so enchanted and yet so real. I think Narayan should have written more about children; his gentleness and his distance is suited to them in a way that becomes slightly otherworldly when he is dealing with adults.

Anita Nair

My Days (1974). It has the same lightness of touch in the writing as Swami and Friends, another favourite, and the subject is very every day but not commonplace. There is a kind of wide-eyed wonder and wealth of detail, and a beautiful naivety about the writing.

From left: Kankana Basu, Jerry Pinto, Anita Nair, Anjum Hasan, Anuja Chauhan

Anjum Hasan

For me, it would be Swami and Friends . I read it as a child and was enchanted by Swami, both strong-willed and vulnerable, and full of innocent subterfuge. It’s a novel that is so well served by Narayan’s bittersweet, acerbic style.

Anuja Chauhan

I like RK Narayan’s short story ‘A Willing Slave’ (from Malgudi Days), which is about an old maid. It was also serialised for TV and Dina Pathak played the old ayah who is exploited by her employers. The beauty of his writing is in how very real the characters are. We’ve all had ayahs exactly like her. She has so much love to give and receives so very little in return. And the beautiful fact that this very unromantic figure too has a love story.

First Published: Oct 10, 2017 11:55 IST