The World of Nagaraj

R.K. Narayan

Vintage 2001 [1990]
A book review by Danny Yee © 2005
Having inherited a comfortable income, Nagaraj leads an easygoing life. He spends an hour a day sitting on his pyol, wearing ochre robes, he works for free doing the accounts for his friend Coomar's sari shop, he eats in his favourite cafe, he gossips with his neighbour the Talkative Man, and he plans to write a book about the sage Narada.

Though loveable, Nagaraj is ineffectual. He is forever planning snappy responses or forceful actions he never finds the courage to carry out. He is rattled by changes to his routine, or even just finding himself in an unfamiliar part of town. He is unable to stand up to his wife Sita, his brother Gopu, or his nephew Tim, even when Tim's wife Saroja's harmonica-playing destroys the peace of his home. And, though he eventually succeeds in finding the right stationery, his plans to write about Narada never come to much, between his own fecklessness and the uncooperativeness of the pundits he has to work with.

Mostly told through dialogue, The World of Nagaraj is a portrait of Nagaraj and the people around him, and through them of the town of Malgudi. Narayan's characters are memorable and unique, but so solidly placed in their settings that they seem almost inevitable.

September 2005

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Related reviews:
- R.K. Narayan - The Painter of Signs
- R.K. Narayan - The Mahabharata; The Ramayana
- more South Asian literature
%T The World of Nagaraj
%A Narayan, R.K.
%I Vintage
%D 2001 [1990]
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0099282526
%P 186pp