Swami and Friends is the first of a trilogy of novels written by R. K. Narayan. The novel is set in British India in a fictional town called Malgudi. The second and third books in the trilogy are The Bachelor of Arts and The English Teacher.
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The first book of R.K. Narayan’s famous trilogy, ‘Swami and Friends’ happens to be Narayan’s first published book as well. It was published in 1935. The setting is of British India, in a fictional town named Malgudi. Swami is a ten-year-old boy who studies at a mission school. He lives with his parents, younger brother, and grandmother. He has a set of friends in two schools that he gets removed from. Events lead Swami to leave his house and go on a run. He is drawn heavily towards the unrest that is prevalent everywhere in India, but he fails to understand the cause. What happens with Swami? Will he be able to get back home safely? To know the answer, read this book.
Narayan successfully creates a child’s perspective about the adult world. What problems do kids face? What do they think of the world they live in? These are the kind of questions you might find answers to. Graham Greene in his review of the book thanked Narayan for making him feel like an Indian through his words. Swami and Friends is a true portrayal of complexities faced by the Indian middle class. Readers get a feeling of common humanity among people of this country. You can feel that soul of India is one through this book. It is a funny and interesting tale of Swami and his adventures. Other characters are Swami’s friends, his family, and people from his town and the people he meets while on these adventures. Readers get to see the world through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy. Readers get to see his boyhood. The priorities and problems that kids find very important can sometimes look inappropriate as an adult, but for kids, that is their world. Narayan has captured the pre-independence world of Malgudi.
About the author
R.K. Narayan was the pioneer of early Indian literature in English. He is known for his books based on a fictional town called Malgudi. The first trilogy is semi-autobiographical. His simple writing style made him one of India’s best novelists. Some of his famous works include ‘The Guide’, ‘The Financial Expert’, ‘The English Teacher’, and many more. He was a Sahitya Academy winning author and a Padma Bhushan winner too. He was considered to be a close friend of Graham Greene.