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Swami and Friends Was the First Novel Written by RK Narayan

Swami and Friends Was the First Novel Written by RK Narayan

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Published by jsaiprasad

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Published by: jsaiprasad on Sep 12, 2010
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Swami and Friends
was the first novel written by RK Narayan. I completedreading this novel yesterday. It is part of a collection of 3 novels called
A MalgudiOmnibus
, others being
Bachelor of Arts
The English Teacher
. I just startedreading Bachelor of Arts. In this review, I will not give summary of the story as it willspoil the thrill when one reads the novel.As is the case with all Narayan works, this novel is also set in an imaginary town inSouth India called Malgudi. Swaminathan is a young boy less than 10 years old. Thisnovel narrates his experiences with his parents, grandmother, friends, residents of Malgudi, and even his new-born brother when he is in second class. However,Swami and his friends are the prime focus of this novel.Swami is a quite different child than the present day children. He lives in a villageand he is extremely innocent which sometimes makes him look mischievous as well.His fate lands him in trouble in whatever he does. He has his own perception of theworld and tries to be the conqueror in spite of his own shortcomings like fear,innocence, etc. Circumstances make him a mis-fit to any school in Malgudi.On the other hand, his friend Rajam is a city-born child who acts beyond his agequite similar to the present day children. He is very ambitious and courageous withleast respect for the elders. His father is a policeman which is also a reason for hiscourage. Apart from being very good in studies, he is very adamant to achievethings which are beyond his reach and is not bothered by the consequences of hispresent actions. There is another friend of Swami called Mani who is a village version of courageouschild. Even though he is courageous, his innocence mostly overtakes that. He isvery close to Swami and offers him lot of advice even when not asked. He alsocarries a club which he feels will protect him in adverse situations. The incidences which involve these three close friends form the crux of the novel.Swami has a strict father, a kind grandmother, and a mother who loses interest inhim once she gives birth to a new baby. The novel is pretty slow to start with andprovides every small detail which form the base for the fun later. I will just providesome of the instances which I thoroughly enjoyed from this novel.Ultimate fun awaits the reader in chapter 12. Swami and Mani listen to a freedomfighter's talk. The freedom fighter blasts the English rulers very much. He tells thatif all the people of India go and spit on England, that is more than enough tosubmerge the whole England. I personally think it is quite true, unless one disprovesit by actually making millions spit on England. Swami also thinks it is true and asksMani if they can attempt that. Mani replies saying Europeans are very bad guys andthey will shoot them. This chapter progresses in such a manner and engages readerwith non-stop fun.
Swami's encounters with the Board school headmaster is also equally enjoyable. The attitude of that headmaster took me back to my school days when some of myteachers used to carry canes to beat students and treat the students as theirslaves. Swami becomes a super-hero when he grabs and throws the cane awaywhen the headmaster attempts to beat him. After that, his conscience makes himfeel sad and leads to other troubles.Malgudi Cricket Club (M.C.C.) which is started by Swami and his friends took meback to my school days when we also tried to start a cricket team called DangerBoys. The letter they write to Binns sports shop in Madras and the other happeningsare great to read.On the whole,
Swami and Friends
is an amazing novel and I do not think I wouldbe reading a better novel ever. The novel took me to my school days and I couldrelate many of the Swami's experiences to my own. This novel is an unadulteratedand absolutely thorough portrayal of a child's life. It is rather unfortunate that mostof the present day children have their so called intelligence suppressing innocenceassociated with their age.Having said that, I am sure that one can find many children like Swami in Indianvillages even today. This novel is a must read for any one who want to roll backtheir years and enjoy the innocent moments of their life.review
I have to be very frank about why I ever picked up this book from the book store. First of all,during one of my interviews for an MBA admission, I proudly told them that I read R.K. Narayan’s books.Their response seemed almost spontaneous, “Have you read Swami andFriends?” I replied in the negative, at which point it almost seemed to be written on their facesthat they thought I was bluffing. That was my first ever real encounter with this title. Secondly,while lazing away in the air-conditioned interiors of a bookstore in Chennai, my eyes came over this little book, and the fact that it was comparatively cheap made me buy it. But I tell you that isabout all I remember, after that I was transported to Malgudi.The story is about a boy, Swaminathan. He lives with his parents, and most importantly hisGrandmother. His Grandmother, or Granny as he calls her, is his closest family member, willingto hear him out at all times, will fight for his human right’s against his oppressor’s like his father.

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