Author: R K Narayan
ISBN/UPC (if available): 067004900X
These writings provide a fascinating glimpse into the private world of one of the most gifted writers of our time, and reveal the ways in which Narayan was able to convert the small and ordinary things of everyday life into memorable literary anecdotes.
When R K Narayan passed away at the age of ninety-four, tributes poured in from fans and admirers, celebrating the art of this master storyteller who has often been described as India’s greatest English language writer. Narayan is better known for his novels set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi, but his essays are as delightful and enchanting as nay of his novels.
This collection begins with the short essays which Narayan wrote as a weekly contribution to the Hindu, the subjects of which are as diverse as umbrellas, weddings, monkeys, South Indian coffee, films, the black market, old age, the caste system, gardening and Vayudoot. The later, longer essays dwell on the cultural ambiguities that persist in our nation: Narayan’s description of the linguistic confusion between the North and the South with the advent of national television is reminiscent of the misunderstood messages in his famous story “A Horse and Two Goats’. The highlight of this section is a scathingly funny essay on the making of the film The Guide, a project that distorted Narayan’s narrative beyond recognition. In a separate section on the world of the writer, Narayan describes the predicament of writing in English in India – an art which he pioneered – and the pitfalls of being considered for the Nobel Prize in Literature – which he never got.
This volume also includes the complete text of My Dateless Diary, Narayan’s jottings about his travels in America when he was in the process of writing The Guide. As journeys across the vast continent on a diet of rice and yogurt and without the aid of an alarm clock, Narayan recounts a myriad memorable moments, from his encounter with the mysterious Greta Garbo to the evening fathering where he is hailed as one of the three greatest living authors in the world.
Taken together, these writings provide a fascinating glimpse into the private world of one of the most gifted writers of our time, and reveal the ways in which Narayan was able to convert the small and ordinary things of everyday life into memorable literary anecdotes.
S KRISHNAN taught English literature at Madras Christian College and at Annamalai University. He spent many years with the United States Information Agency in their educational and cultural programmers. He is a consulting editor with the Indian Review of Books and a senior editor of Shruti, a music and dance magazine. Krishnan has edited several volumes of R K Narayan’s writings.
Publisher's Note Foreword SHORT ESSAYS I Next Sunday The Crowd Our Dress Noise Coffee The Winged Ants Behind One Another Restaurants The Cat Causerie Allergy Horses and Others The Vandal The No-Musical Man On Humour The Scout Gardening without Tears The Great Basket Of Trains and Travellers Umbrella Devotee The Sycophant The Maha Headache The Critical Faculty Beauty and the Beast Memory A Writer's Nightmare MY DATELESS DIARY New York Days Through The Mid-West Chicago Westward Bound Los Angeles Grand Canyon and Beyond Gurukula in Tennessee Washington DC and Onward New York SHORT ESSAYS II Toasted English Higher Mathematics Taxing Thoughts Everest Reactions Rice and Hospitality Reception at Six Bridegroom Bargains The Election Game The Unseen Shop On Films Street Names Red-taping Culture Family Doctor Coffee Worries Fifteen Years To a Hindi Enthusiast Curiosity Rambles in a Library At an Auctioneer's Pride of Place Houses, Houses Castes: Old and New The Newspaper Habit The Postcard The Lost Umbrella Looking One's Age A Picture of Years LATER ESSAYS India and America My Educational Outlook Crowded Day Teaching In Texas On Funny Encounters The Testament of a Walker A Matter of Statues History is a Delicate Subject Sorry, No Room Junk Of Age Pickpockets Monkeys God and the Atheist On Ved Mehta In the Philippines Indira Gandhi Cruelty to Children Table Talk Permitted Laughter Vayudoot On Walking The Enemies THE WORLD OF THE WRITER Reluctant Guru The Problem of the Indian Writer English in India When India was a Colony After the Raj In the Confessional Misguided Guide A Literary Alchemy Reflections On Frankfurt Love and Lovers The Nobel Prize and All That The Writerly Life