Small-town fiction in South India: We are not in Malgudi anymore

Pranab Bardhan selects three books to explain how the depiction in fiction today of life in small town India is far away from the ordered world of Malgudi

This tiny shop in Delhi stocks donated books to spread the joy of reading

A British friend of mine once told me that when he feels stressed he often turns to re-reading R.K. Narayan’s stories about Malgudi, the fictional placid small town in south India. Much earlier, in the 1930s, a fellow-Britisher, the writer Graham Greene, had discovered Narayan and became his life-long friend, mentor, agent for the wider literary world, and even occasional proof-reader. He found a kind of “sadness and beauty” in Narayan’s simple depiction of the idiosyncrasies and disappointments of ordinary lives which he imbues with a touching sense of gentle irony ...