R.K. Narayan: A writer who portrayed The true Soul of South India
I am not a great critic, I am not a critic at all for that matter of fact, but I have always felt a special liking for Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami or in short R.K. Narayan’s stories. I have read only some of his works, but whenever I find a R.K. Narayan book I never miss it even if its during the exams. The first time I read an R.K story was from my English text in school.
It was the story of the famous boy character ‘swami’. I felt like he was writing a common south Indian boys story and the most interesting part was that I could associate certain incidences of that story with my real life. Then I went on and read ‘The Financial Expert’ , ‘The Man eater of Malgudi’, ‘The Malgudi Days’ and many other short stories in all of them I could find characters that resembled people in my neighborhood and relatives, I am sure every south Indian reading his book must have felt the same, I don’t think there has been any other writer who could have portrayed south Indian life style in such depth and detail and yet the stories remain simple. And it this one reason that made R.K. Narayan my favorite writer. Narayan has said in an Interview
I must be absolutely certain about the psychology of the character I am writing about, and I must be equally sure of the background. I know the Tamil and Kannada speaking people most. I know their background. I know how their minds work and almost as if it is happening to me, I know exactly what will happen to them in certain circumstances. And I know how they will react.
And maybe this is the reason why feel all his stories as a incidences from our life. many times I have searched the map for a city called Malgudi It never seems a fictitious place, such is the detail that he has given about the place.
Narayan himself speaks of Malgudi as such,
Malgudi was an earth-shaking discovery for me, because I had no mind for facts and things like that, which would be necessary in writing about Malgudi or any real place. I first pictured not my town but just the railway station, which was a small platform with a banyan tree, a station master, and two trains a day, one coming and one going. On Vijayadasami I sat down and wrote the first sentence about my town: The train had just arrived in Malgudi Station.
Some say Malgudi resemble Coimbatore anyway you can learn more about such details from this link .
If you want a feel of South India I suggest you read any of the novels or short stories by R.K. Narayan and I’m sure you will definitely get a feel of South India. As Graham Greene said
Whom next shall I meet in Malgudi? That is the thought that comes to me when I close a novel of Mr Narayan’s. I do not wait for another novel. I wait to go out of my door into those loved and shabby streets and see with excitement and a certainty of pleasure a stranger approaching, past the bank, the cinema, the hair cutting saloon, a stranger who will greet me I know with some unexpected and revealing phrase that will open a door on to yet another human existence.