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(11/12/2008) A Town Called Malgudi by R. K. Narayan. New Delhi. 1999. Viking Press/Penguin Books India. Edited by S. Krishnan. keywords: Literature India. 642 pages. Cover illustration by R. K. Laxman Cover design by Apurba Choudhury. 0670889512.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In the last-year of this millennium, R. K. Narayan, the grand old man of Indian literature, turns ninety-three. In a writing career spanning seven decades, he has enthralled and entertained generations of readers with his deftly etched characters, his uniquely stylized language and his wry sense of humour. A storyteller par excellence, Narayan's greatest achievement perhaps lies in creating and peopling the imagined landscapes of a town called Malgudi, located somewhere in south India, which has come alive in story after story in such a way that it has now become a part of modern Indian folklore. This collection brings between two covers some of the most memorable fiction that has emerged from R. K. Narayan's pen. It contains THE MAN-EATER OF MALGUDI, arguably the greatest novel Narayan has ever written, which tells the story of Nataraj, owner of a small printing press, and his house guest Vasu, a taxidermist, who moves into Nataraj's attic with a menagerie of dead animals. There is also TALKATIVE MAN, a novella that starts off with the arrival on the Delhi train of a stranger in a blue suit who takes up residence in the station waiting-room and refuses to budge. Also included here are some of the most popular and striking short stories Narayan has written: from the celebrated `A Horse and Two Goats' and `Salt and Sawdust', the tale of a wife who cannot distinguish between salt and sawdust for seasoning and thus leaves her husband with no option but to cook himself, to gems like `An Astrologer's Day', 'The Shelter' and `Under the Banyan Tree', which is about a man called Nambi who has the uncanny ability to mesmerize his audience with his stories, but eventually lapses into silence. Encapsulating the very best of R. K. Narayan's remarkable output, this is a fitting tribute to one of the greatest living writers in the English language.

R. K. Narayan was born in Madras and educated there and at Maharajah's College in Mysore. His first novel, SWAMI AND FRIENDS and its successor THE BACHELOR OF ARTS are both set in the enchanting fictional territory of Malgudi. Other `Malgudi novels are: THE DARK ROOM, THE ENGLISH TEACHER, MR SAMPATH, THE FINANCIAL EXPERT, THE MAN-EATER OF MALGUDI, THE VENDOR OF SWEETS, THE PAINTER OF SIGNS, A TIGER FOR MALGUDI, TALKATIVE MAN, and his most recent, THE WORLD OF NAGARAJ. Other novels include WAITING FOR THE MAHATMA and THE GUIDE - which won the Sahitya Akademi Award. In 1980 R. K. Narayan was awarded the A. C. Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature and was made an Honorary Member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1989 he was made a member of the Rajya Sabha. As well as six collections of short stories, he has published two travel books, five collections of essays, translations of Indian epics and myths and a memoir MALGUDI LANDSCAPES, a selection from Narayan's best writings, is also available in Penguin Books.

S. Krishnan taught English literature at the Madras Christian College and at Annamalai University. He later spent many years with the United States Information Agency in their educational and cultural programme. He is an editor and freelance writer and lives in Chennai.

 

 

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