Thursday, 7 March 2013

Bookworm: Malgudi Days by R K Narayan

Today is World Book Day apparently, so how apt I've just finished reading a book about India, written by an Indian author and given to me as a gift by a colleague in India.

I've been reading Malgudi Days now for just over a week, a book which was first published in India in 1943 and outside of India in 1982.

The book contains a collection of short stories all based in India in the fictional area of Malgudi. Narayan himself argued that the area was fictional and the characters he details can be found anywhere around the world.

Again, as I've mentioned before, I'm not a huge fan of short stories as I find just as you get into them you reach the end. However, I had really enjoyed Wise and Otherwise which offered short stories so I tried to keep an open mind.

This time round the India I was reading about was fictional, although clearly based on things Narayan has seen in life and settings/lifestyles witnessed in India itself.

I found it interesting to find out a bit more about Indian life and liked the handy guide at the back of the book referencing some of the Indian terms included.

In terms of the actual stories though I admit I didn't enjoy this anywhere near as much as Wise & Otherwise. I think because the short stories are fictional.

One thing I did like about the stories was how strong the characters were, now a lot of the characters to be honest I didn't really like and felt I couldn't associate with at all. However, they are well described and very powerful, perhaps even extreme - this I liked.

Many of the stories I got to the end of I found myself disliking the character and not really feeling like I'd learnt or enjoyed the tales. However, others I did enjoy - in particular The Missing Mail and The Doctor's Word.

I think what I found disappointing is that I thought most of the stories would be about nice people and likeable characters and that there'd be a strong message behind them. I didn't really feel this was the case in a lot of the short stories.

Good points
Strong characters
Very good descriptive style so you can really picture every story you're reading about
Offered further insight into Indian life/terms
Back of the book guide to terms is handy

Not so great
I didn't like many of the characters
Found some of the stories a little odd/not really enjoyable

In summary, I would say I much prefer short stories when they are real life situations. I am glad I read the book and experienced it, but I think overall short stories aren't really for me.

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