Swami and Friends - A reading project


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This is a review of the famous book "Swami and Friend" written by the famous Indian author R.K Narayan.

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Swami and Friends - A reading project

  2. 2. R.K. NARAYANR. K. Narayan (10 October 1906 – 13 May 2001), shortened fromRasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami was an Indianauthor whose works of fiction include a series of books about peopleand their interactions in an imagined town in India called Malgudi.He is one of three leading figures of early Indian literature inEnglish, along with Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao. He is creditedwith bringing Indian literature in English to the rest of the world, andis regarded as one of Indias greatest English language novelists.The setting for most of Narayans stories is the fictional town ofMalgudi, first introduced in Swami and Friends. His narrativeshighlight social context and provide a feel for his characters througheveryday life.Narayans short story writing style has been compared to that of Guyde Maupassant, as they both have an ability to compress thenarrative without losing out on elements of the story. Narayan hasalso come in for criticism for being too simple in his prose and diction.In a writing career that spanned over sixty years, Narayan receivedmany awards and honours. These include the AC Benson Medal fromthe Royal Society of Literature and the Padma Vibhushan, Indiassecond-highest civilian award. 2
  3. 3. SWAMI AND FRIENDSNAME OF THE Publisher: Hamilton YEAR OF Publication: 1935 3
  4. 4. WHAT IS THE BOOK ABOUT?The book Swami and Friends is the story of ten-year oldSwaminathan. He is a quite different child than the present daychildren, a boy full of innocence, wonder, and mischief, and hisexperiences growing up in the fictional town of Malgudi. His fatelands him in trouble in whatever he does. He is a student at theBritish-established Albert Mission School, which stresses Christianity,English literature, and the value of education. He has his ownperception of the world and tries to be the conqueror in spite of hisown shortcomings like fear, innocence, etc. Circumstances make himan un-fit to any school in Malgudi. Life changes dramatically foryoung Swami when Rajam - a symbol of colonial power - joins theschool, and becomes his close friend. This novel narrates Swami‟sexperiences with his parents, grandmother, friends, residents ofMalgudi, and even his new-born brother when he is in second class. 4
  5. 5. DID YOU LIKE IT?Yes, I liked it very much. One of the reasons why I enjoyed „Swami& friends‟ is the simplicity of Narayan‟s fiction, in the terms ofliterary theory and techniques. He is known for a lean, lucid,undecorated style, but wonderfully expressive and full ofunderstated surprises. I also got a glimpse of the many gray shadesof Swami‟s character also. His behaviour with his grandmother,his running away from home oblivious of his parents‟ pain and thecareless way in which he thanks the forest officer who took care ofhim while lost, all point towards a very believable and realcharacter. Generally boys of his age do behave in a similar manner.One cannot forget the typical Indian family, for example; a lovingyet authoritarian father; a supportive and doting grandmotherwho just showers her love on Swami without any selfish motives,even when Swami bluntly tells her that her being so oldembarrasses him in front of his friends. His mother Lakshmi, ismore or less a secondary influence and has a shadowed kind ofexistence in his life and this too is pretty common for a boy his agefor whom the mother‟s existence is m0re or less related to food andkitchen.The book is an amazing amalgamation of the kids‟ world and theadults‟ world. Swami & Friends truly represents the literature ofyoung adults and I strongly feel that it would be an interestingread for years and generations to come because it talks aboutsomething that is basic to the nature of children – affection,friendship, belongingness, security, rebellion, etc. 5
  6. 6. Main Character of the BookSwami and Friends revolves around the everyday life of ten-year oldSwaminathan, or Swami as he is known by other characters. Swamiportrays the growing up pangs of a boy who despises school, as hemakes excuses and roams around Malgudi with his friends. Swamibelongs to a middle class family. He has a grand mother, father,mother and a little brother. His father is Lawyer by profession and hismother is a housewife. At home, Swami shares his adventures with hisaged granny, who lovingly addresses him as "Chamy." Like all otherboys of his age he loves to be in the company of his friends. Swami hastwo close friends: Mani and the son of the Police Chief Superintendent,Rajam. He likes wandering and playing with them. He is a veryinnocent boy. When his father gives him a very simple to solve,instead of doing calculations he is thinking about the nature of themangoes and the mango sellers which shows his innocence. 6
  7. 7. FAVOURITE CHARACTERSwami is my favourite character. It is because his characterrepresents the normal village boy of about 10 years and the dilemmafaced by him. The situations put in front of Swami are very genuineand almost everyone faces problems like those in their childhood. InSwami the author has portrayed the childish nature and a verypractical opinion about a childs reaction to situations. Swami likes tospend his time with Mani and Rajam. Since Swami is so much in aweof Rajam and follows him everywhere, he earns the name as “TheTail” of Rajam from other classmates. 7
  8. 8. NAME OTHER BOOKS WRITTEN BY THE SAME AUTHOR.  Malgudi Days  The English teacher  The Man-eater of Malgudi  The Dark Room  The Financial Expert  Waiting for the Mahatma *********************** 8