Top 10 RK Narayan Books that are Must-Read

RK Narayan Books: Few writers that have lived in India are, perhaps, as celebrated as RK Narayan. Born as Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami in Chennai (then known as Madras) in 1906, he became prolific in English at an early age. He was mentored by the renowned writer Henry Graham Greene, who helped him in publishing his first four novels, kicking off his career as a writer.

RK Narayan Books

His experiences in southern India and his childhood there had a significant impact on Narayan’s work. He frequently used circumstances and personalities from his own life as well as his observations of his peers in his novels and short stories. He is renowned for his fascinating and vivid descriptions of Malgudi’s daily life as well as his aptitude for capturing the irony and humour in everyday incidents.

Since he lived at a time when the Indian freedom struggle was in full swing, his few novels, although primarily about the lives of the average person and written with his signature irony, have major references to the Indian independence movement. 

For his literary accomplishments, Narayan was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament in 1980. He consistently emphasised the issue of the hardship of schoolchildren, particularly the burdensome workload of textbooks and the detrimental impact on the creativity of the children for the entirety of his six-year term.

RK Narayan Books are a delight to read. His books are known for bringing the Indian literature to the world. However, if you want to begin reading RK Narayan Books, you would find some difficulty in choosing which of the RK Narayan Books to begin with. Hence, in this article, we provide you with a list of top ten RK Narayan Books along with their reviews. 

Top 10 RK Narayan Books

1) Swami and Friends

The first book in our list of RK Narayan Books is the first book published by him: Swami and Friends. It is also the first book of the trilogy, other being The Bachelor of Arts and The English Teacher. Beautifully written, the book captures the essence of early 20th-century India and is splendid, captivating, and enjoyable to read, as well as appeals to readers of all ages and backgrounds. This timeless classic is a must-read for everyone with an interest in Indian literature and culture.

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The book introduces the fictional town of Malgudi to the audience. Identity, friendship, and the conflict between modernity and tradition are among the themes covered in the book. Additionally, more serious topics like colonialism, caste, and political instability are discussed in the book. Narayan skillfully incorporates them into the narrative in a way that is both stimulating and understandable to readers.

2) The Bachelor of Arts 

The second book in our list of RK Narayan Books is the second book of the trilogy. It is a beautiful and enlightening book that provides a window into the life of Chandran, a young Indian man. The novel, which takes place in British colonial India in the 1930s, follows Chandran as he earns his Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree and faces the difficulties of adulthood and freedom.

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Narayan skillfully captures the fundamental characteristics of contemporary Indian society. Readers learn about the complexity of Indian family, the stress of societal expectations, as well as the difficulties of upholding cultural traditions in a fast-changing world

3) The English Teacher

The third book in our list of RK Narayan Books is the last book of the trilogy: The English Teacher. It is an extraordinarily touching book that examines themes of love, sorrow, and the pursuit of enlightenment. The main character Krishna is depicted as an English teacher as he deals with the demise of his young spouse and sets off on a voyage of self-discovery. 

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The book offers a profound examination of grief and the process of recovery from it. Readers will be able to understand the depth of Krishna’s sadness and pain because of how openly and honestly he deals with his wife’s passing. Readers with similar experiences may find comfort in Narayan’s compassionate and genuine portrayal of the various phases of sorrow.

4) Malgudi Days

The fourth book in our list of RK Narayan Books is one of his most popular books. It is a classic that exemplifies Narayan’s skill as a storyteller and his capacity to encapsulate Indian society and culture. It is a must-read for anybody passionate about Indian literature and culture. The book consists of 32 stories, all of them set in the fictional town of Malgudi, with each story depicting a distinct aspect of life in Malgudi. A few stories from the book were included in a TV Series that goes by the same name.

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5) The Financial Expert

The fifth book in our list of RK Narayan Books is The Financial Expert, which is an intriguing insight into greed, ambition, and the quest for the wealth of an Indian in Postcolonial India. The book’s protagonist is Margayya, a modestly skilled financial advisor who rises to fame and money through savvy business strategies and deft customer manipulation. Through this book, Narayan depicts the natural desire for upward mobility of Indians in an India that has just recently come out of the horrible evil of colonisation.

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6) The Guide

The sixth book in our list of RK Narayan Books has been adopted as a movie that goes by the same name. The book is about the journey of Raju, the protagonist, who goes from being a tour guide to a spiritual advisor to one of India’s finest holy men. It is a strong and engrossing book that examines themes of identity, atonement, and the quest for purpose in life. 

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The novel offers a potent examination of both the complexity of relationships and the human psyche. Narayan portrays each individual in the book with insight and empathy, and his language is infused with an uncommon and pleasant sense of compassion and understanding.

The film Guide starred Dev Anand as Raju and Waheeda Rehman as Rosie.

7) Waiting for the Mahatma

The seventh novel in our list of RK Narayan Books is Waiting for the Mahatma. Like most of Narayan’s books, this book is also set in the fictional town of Malgudi. The book’s protagonist is Sriram, a boy who becomes an Independence activist, out of love for a girl named Bharati, ultimately getting involved in extremist activities against the British Government. The book’s funniest moments arise from Sriram’s miscommunications with the villagers while he is engaged in underground activity in the countryside, which is unfamiliar to him. The novel concludes with Sriram, after being jailed for a brief time, getting engaged with Bharati in the middle of the tragedy of the partition of India in 1947 following Gandhi’s passing in 1948.

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8) Gods, Demons and Others

The eighth book in our list of RK Narayan Books is a collection of more than a dozen stories exploring the various folklore and legends ubiquitous in Indian culture. It is a collection of stories from India’s rich mythology and history that are told in their original context. The stories mostly revolve around some Great individuals, Gods and Goddesses, who transcend time and age, such as Shakuntala, Ravana, Draupadi, Harishchandra etc. The book is a must-read for any person interested in Indian mythology.

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9) The Man-Eater of Malgudi

The ninth book in our list of RK Narayan Books is The Man-Eater of Malgudi. The novel, which is also set in the imaginary village of Malgudi, chronicles the tale of Nataraj, a bookseller and printer, who gets entangled in Vasu’s bizarre and tragic tale as a taxidermist with a propensity for killing animals. Nataraj is a likeable and nuanced protagonist, as he attempts to comprehend the puzzling Vasu and to balance the demands of social conformity with his own sense of morality.

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10) Talkative Man

The last but certainly not the least book in our list of RK Narayan Books is Talkative Man. The novella is a little different from his other books, which primarily focus on the battle inside human nature. In this book, the individuals and situations that lead up to the ultimate climax are quite entertaining. The book’s main character, a man who speaks a lot, is “TM” (short for “Talkative Man”). He resides in Malgudi, and as a budding journalist, one of his greatest aspirations is to see his articles appear in newspapers. He frequently stops by the Town Hall Library, not to read or study, but to check whether his stories have been published before being usually let down.

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