Bollywood Comes to Malgudi
Mr. Sampath-The Printer of Malgudi (sometimes simply referred to as The Printer of Malgudi) by R. K. Narayan (1906 to 2001-India) is about the lives of two friends and business partners. One of them is the editor of a weekly newspaper (The Banner) and the other is the printer. In the days before desk top printers every substantial business in Malgudi needed the services of a printer, no one more than a newspaper.
Narayan is a wonderful writer. Since discovering him a few months ago I have read and posted on 31 of his short stories and three of his novels. Most of his
stories are set in a community he created in his imagination, Malgudi India. He has a unique prose style that I love. When you read his work at first you have to step back and realize the characters in the stories and novels are speaking a language that is not their "home language". The understanding of the import of this is, I think, central to an appreciation of Narayan. His stories and novels are not all hard to follow. He was one of the very first Indian authors to have a wide spread readership for his English language works. He was assisted in his career by Graham Greene.
The plot is pretty simple. Mr. Shrinivas starts a weekly newspaper and is it going great. Everybody who is anybody in Malgudi is reading it. The printer is his good friend Mr. Sampath. A labor issue forces the newspaper out of business. Both men get work with a film making company and are taken up with the glamour of the movie business. Mr. Sampath becomes a screen writer and his friend starts a romance with an actress. I won't relay more of the plot.
The characters are beautifully developed. The prose is perfect and the plot is a lot of fun. The more I read Narayan the more I like him. Malgudi feels very real to me.
Narayan wrote fifteen novels and a lot of short stories (I do not know how many yet). I would suggest that if you like short stories you start out with a few of them, the style of the novels is the same, then, if you can, begin to read his novels in order of publication. If you want to read only his consensus best novel then I think it is The Guide. In my posts on his short stories I have given a link where you can download or read online 31 of them.
I am excited about my next of his works I will read, Waiting for the Mahatma, about Gandhi's trip to Malgudi and its impact on the town. I hope to read all of his novels and short stories.
I received this book as a gift from a patron of my blog in New Delhi to whom I am very grateful.
Please share your experience with R. K. Narayan with us-