Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

R. K. Narayan-Four Stories from a Master of the Short Story

"A Snake in the Grass"  (1947, 5 pages)
"Accident" (1947, 6 pages)
"Such Perfection" (1947, 6 pages)
"A Career"  (1947, 7 pages)

Four More Great Short Stories by
R. K. Narayan

I am more and more convinced Narayan (1906 to 2001-India)  belongs among the great 20th century short story writers,  certainly in the top twenty, maybe top ten.    I have never seen him on any of the many such lists I have looked at in the last year and I think this is a  reflection of the very Euro-centric education almost all of those in the reading life have had.   This for sure extends to those raised in Asia as well.    When I first began to read his stories set in the imaginary town of Malgudi, India I thought to myself, OK,  he is kind of the Sherwood Anderson of  India.   I still think this is a potentially illuminating comparison but now I think Narayan is more than that.   

Anyway I am reading though his 1947 collection of short stories (most of the stories were first published in The Hindu and have length requirements because of that)  The Astrologer's Day and other Tales.   There are 30 stories in the collection.   I have 14 to go.   He has other collections of short stories but it is mostly these that can be read online.   As I have already posted a lot on him I will keep the rest of my posts on the stories brief.

"A Snake in the Grass" made me feel the very strong fear a king cobra loose in the neighborhood would produce.   Everything more or less has to stop until the snake can be captured.   In the story see what happens at a house where the snake is seen going into the yard.   At first the houseman is blamed for not taking care of the yard and letting it get over grown with bushes.   The the college student chimes in telling everyone exactly how many people are killed in India every year by cobras.   Narayan shows his very deft touch when he describes the family as a mother, 3 daughter and a son with no mention at all of the father.   At once we begin to wonder what happened to him and it brings the family to life for us.  

"Accident" is a really fun ghost story that reminded me of part of the plot of a the plot of a Jerry Seinfeld show.   (The episode where Kramer goes to California and is picked up by a truck driver that was killed in an accident years ago but still rides the road.)

"Such Perfection" is about an artist who carves such a beautiful image of a God that  the statue is considered almost demonic as it will itself be worshipped.    This sort of reminded me of a Hawthorne short story.

"A Career" is simply a great very wise short story that puts a huge amount of life in a few pages.   It has a great ending.   As I said before, Narayan really knows how to end a story

All of these stories can be read HERE.

As these stories were all published before the 1947 Partition of India they are very relevant to the Passage to the Raj Project.   

Mel u

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

he is a true master I will be reading his short stories some time I ve loved all the books I ve read by him ,he is true chronicler of India post 47 ,all the best stu