Drama, Fiction

The Guide by R.K. Narayan

For the first time in my life, my father recommended a book to me. My father was actually quite a reader when he was younger but somehow, he gave up on it when he got married. I’ve always recommended books to him or given him some of mine to read but he always refused. So I was surprised when he took the time to tell me to read this one. Naturally, I couldn’t refuse and so I read this book on my flight to San Francisco.

This is a novel about a man named Raju who just got out of prison. As he contemplates what he will do next with his life, he approaches a secluded temple near a body of water. As he rests under the shade of a tree, a man approaches and promptly begins to pour out his life story and his problems. Although Raju doesn’t want to be involved in any way, he finds that his every word is interpreted as advice by this man (whose name is Velan). When Velan’s troubles are solved, he claims it is all because of Raju and proceeds to tell all the villagers that Raju is a Swami. At first, Raju unwillingly plays this role but eventually something changes and he begins to believe it to such an extent that the Gods now test his “faithfulness”.

What I like about this novel is the way that it constantly switches between present and past. It tells you the circumstances that led Raju to prison in the first place and it also shows you who Raju is now and why people are so insistent that he is a Swami. It is eloquently written and shows a beautifully cultured side of India. This book is completely different than other books I read regularly but it made a very strong positive impression on me. If you want something deep, something that will stick with you and keep you thinking, this is the book for you. Everything is written in such a pleasant way that it becomes really hard to put it down. I’m so glad that this was recommended to me and I cannot wait to read more from this author!

Happy reading~

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