Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Review: The Guide

Title - The Guide
Author - R. K. Narayan
Genre - Fiction
My Rating -5 Stars

R. K. Narayan is one of India’s beloved writers. He is one of the He wrote a series of novels and short stories about people in a fictitious town called Malgudi. The descriptions of the place and the characters are so real that it is hard to believe that a place called Malgudi never existed and the characters are just figments of imagination. Though I have read short stories written by him, The Guide was the first novel that I actually managed to get my hands on.

If you are not new to this blog, you’ll know that my favorite author is Salman Rushdie. I love his style of writing and I don’t minds spending days poring over the pages of his books and flipping back and forth to re-read what I just read, etc.
And I have to admit, I enjoyed reading R. K. Narayan almost as much as I enjoyed Rushdie. They are almost completely opposite in their styles of writing and I would never have thought I would enjoy both to almost the same extent.

The first thing that I found interesting about the book was the way Narayan delved right in to the life of Raju – the protagonist. I expected a few pages (or at least a few paragraphs) setting the stage for the book.
Narayan’s style of writing took me by complete surprise. There were no flowery descriptions, no superfluous words, no pretentious texts. The writing was simple and concise. And yet, somehow, you get everything you need to know about the people and the place! It is totally amazing! I have read books which are hundreds of pages long and finished them feeling like I didn’t know the characters well enough. But with The Guide, I was hardly three chapters in to the book and I already knew Raju!

The book revolves around Raju. In alternate chapters we see Raju in his present avatar – a spiritual guru and in the other chapters, we see the previous avatar – that of a tourist guide. The present story and the past story are slowly developed and finally merge in the final few pages of the book. There are very few main characters but they are all very well developed. Telling you anything more about the book will only take the fun out of the reading.. I enjoyed reading the book when I started out knowing nothing about it and I want you to have the same experience. I didn't like the cover art initially, but after reading the book, I appreciated the nuances in the depiction more.

And a review any longer threatens to be longer than the book itself;) obviously, I am no R. K. Narayan when it comes to brevity of writing..


bermudaonion said...

I like simple,concise writing, so this sounds appealing to me.

Swapna said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this book! I LOVE the (Hindi) movie.

Siddhartha Joshi said...

I read this book years ago, and it has been my favourite ever since! Its beauty lies in the simplicity in narration of a subject so complex.

I would highly recommend it to any friend who enjoys reading!