Read Swami and Friends by R.K. Narayan Online

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"There are writers—Tolstoy and Henry James to name two—whom we hold in awe, writers—Turgenev and Chekhov—for whom we feel a personal affection, other writers whom we respect—Conrad for example—but who hold us at a long arm's length with their 'courtly foreign grace.' Narayan (whom I don't hesitate to name in such a context) more than any of them wakes in me a spring of gra"There are writers—Tolstoy and Henry James to name two—whom we hold in awe, writers—Turgenev and Chekhov—for whom we feel a personal affection, other writers whom we respect—Conrad for example—but who hold us at a long arm's length with their 'courtly foreign grace.' Narayan (whom I don't hesitate to name in such a context) more than any of them wakes in me a spring of gratitude, for he has offered me a second home. Without him I could never have known what it is like to be Indian."—Graham GreeneOffering rare insight into the complexities of Indian middle-class society, R. K. Narayan traces life in the fictional town of Malgudi. The Dark Room is a searching look at a difficult marriage and a woman who eventually rebels against the demands of being a good and obedient wife. In Mr. Sampath, a newspaper man tries to keep his paper afloat in the face of social and economic changes sweeping India. Narayan writes of youth and young adulthood in the semiautobiographical Swami and Friends and The Bachelor of Arts. Although the ordinary tensions of maturing are heightened by the particular circumstances of pre-partition India, Narayan provides a universal vision of childhood, early love and grief."The experience of reading one of his novels is . . . comparable to one's first reaction to the great Russian novels: the fresh realization of the common humanity of all peoples, underlain by a simultaneous sense of strangeness—like one's own reflection seen in a green twilight."—Margaret Parton, New York Herald Tribune"The novels of R.K. Narayan are the best I have read in any language for a long time. . . . His work gives the conviction that it is possible to capture in English, a language not born of India, the distinctive characteristics of Indian family life."—Amit Roy, Daily Telegraph...

Title : Swami and Friends
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780226568317
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 190 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Swami and Friends Reviews

  • Lars Guthrie
    2019-06-07 03:50

    I would never have known about Narayan had not the parent of a child with whom I worked introduced me with a Christmas present of the Everyman's Library Edition of the four 'Malgugi' novels. Another lucky reward of my job. The first of these novels, 'Swami' is the story of a ten-year-old boy in a small town in southern India, just as Gandhi's independence movement is gaining traction. Narayan's effortless prose is deceptively free of judgment, even style--a clean and spare narration that looks way easier than it is. It reminds me of actors who play "themselves" successfully, like Cary Grant or John Wayne, or "natural" sounding singers like Sinatra. When you stop being aware of the craftsmanship, you know you are in the presence of a master craftsman.Narayan perfectly captures the thinking of a child caught up in events beyond his understanding. Swami is torn between the excitement of a revolutionary movement that is about rejecting the old order, and his idolization of the charming son of a representative of that order, a police official in the British colonial system.It's a beautiful little book. Highly recommended.

  • P
    2019-05-26 03:46

    Swami and friends has got such an innocence that they will make you smile, remind you of the 'big problems' you had to face when you were a child and all those ridiculous things you did.For example, I used to write letters exactly like this one"I am studying here because my father came here. My mother is alsohere. All of us are here. And we will be only here. I am doing well. I hopeyou are doing well. It is very hot here. I had fever for three days and drankmedicine. I hope I will read well and pass the examination. Is Swami andMani doing well! It is very hot here. I am playing cricket now. I can't writemore."Definitely it is a feel good book and might help you to keep the last bit of innocence left in you.

  • Ian Laird
    2019-06-07 22:42

    I first read Swami and Friends in 2005, and have re-read it to kick off a little review projectNarayan Project - No. 1 of 26*This is a beautiful book about childhood, specifically boyhood, told by a master story teller about to begin his long and fruitful creative life.Famously, Swami and Friends is the work which got RK Narayan his start, when a friend in London showed the manuscript to Graham Greene, leading to its publication, after the friend ignored RKN’s instruction to throw the work into the Thames.I’m also confident this is the first appearance of the imaginary town of Malgudi, based on Mysore, which appears pretty well developed, featuring a substantial river, the Sarayu, flowing by, the classy residential precinct Lawley Extension (where Swami’s new friend Rajam lives), Ellaman Street and so forth: the elements appearing here would reappear in most of Narayan’s stories hereafter.Ten year old WS Swaminathan (Swami) is a First Form student at the Albert Mission School. The story starts off smartly, in action and thematically- Swami is off to school, apprehensive about his ‘fire-eyed’ teacher, Vedanayagam and ‘the headmaster with the long thin cane’ (p1). He is soon in a scripture class with Mr Ebenezar, a Christian fanatic, who rubbishes Hindus and erupts when Swami puts some thoughtful questions to him about Jesus, provoking Mr Ebenezar to try to wrench off the boy’s left ear. This ill-treatment prompts Swami’s father, a lawyer, to write to the school threatening to withdraw the boy in light of these non-Christian practices. This all happens in the first five pages. RK Narayan never mucks around. The themes introduced here are ones which the author pursued throughout his writing life – the importance of good education, the need for understanding and tolerance of religious diversity, the relationship between father and son, and the relationship between student and teacher, especially between student and headmaster. This is particularly meaningful in Narayan’s case as his father was a headmaster: for some of Narayan’s schooling his dad was the headmaster (RK Narayan was an indifferent student).We soon meet Swami’s friends: Mani the mighty, Somu the monitor, Sankar the smart one and Samuel ‘the pea’, and begin to see how their relationships work. This equilibrium is disturbed by the arrival of Rajam, son of the new Police Superintendent, and wealthier and better spoken (in English) than Swami and his friends.Swami is dazzled by Rajam, and a group of three becomes established; a new alignment, between Swami, Mani and Rajam, which ultimately leads to the establishment of their own cricket team, which provides the impetus for the latter part of the story.Even though the stories of Swami’s life at school are episodic they represent a remarkably coherent depiction of a small boy’s life at a critical time.Narayan manages to capture the fears, aspirations and delights of childhood. He goes to the heart of Swami’s relationships with his friends, his teachers, his headmasters and his family – father, mother, granny and newly arrived baby brother. Swami oscillates wildly, from exhilaration at new discoveries and new friends to fear and apprehension at what might befall him.Swami’s relationship with his father is really important. Swami is proud of his father, but he is sometimes fearful and thinks father can be unfairly restrictive. Father has laid down some ground rules for Swami prior to the examinations. Swami ruminates:Staying home in the evenings was extremely irksome. He sighed at the thought of the sandbanks of the Sarayu and Mani’s company. But his father had forbidden him to go out till the examinations were over. He often felt he should tell his father what he thought of him. But somehow when one came near doing it, one failed. He would have to endure it after all for only one week … The thought that he would have to put up with his travails only for a week at worst gave him fresh energy. (p55)Narayan captures the pluck and defiance in the boy, but also how hard it is for a son to actually stand up to his father. He also appreciates the gulf in world views between parent and child. Take fractions for example: Swami is a dreamer and easily distracted. But even when he tries hard he has trouble understanding a question about the price of mangoes:Swami then gazed and gazed at this sum, and every time he read it, it seemed to acquire a new meaning. He had the feeling of having stepped into a fearful maze... His mouth began to water at the thought of mangoes. (p86) He wonders about the setting of the price, the quality of the mangoes and the character of their purveyors and finally asks his father: ‘Father, will you tell me if the mangoes were ripe?’ Father regarded him for a while and smothering a smile remarked: ‘Do the sum first. I will tell you whether the fruits were ripe or not, afterwards.’ (p87) There follows an agony for the boy as he tries to work out the problem with his father more or less patiently waiting: ‘You seem to be an extraordinary idiot. Now read the sum. Come on.’ (p87). Swami keeps wrestling with the problem and side tracks himself with irrelevant distractions including the thought that if father wanted to know the price of mangoes so badly, he should go to the market himself. With more help from his dad he eventually gets it right but immediately bursts into tears. I was reminded, rather painfully on both counts, of driving my own father to distraction at my complete failure to grasp simple (to him) mathematical concepts and a very similar reaction for me when trying to do the same with my son.Like many small boys Swami is often unsure of himself and looks for assurance from his peers. At the examination Swami writes one line in answer to a moral question about a Brahmin and a tiger, but quickly claims more when he learns of his friends’ wordier efforts.‘I too wrote about that length, about half a page,’ lied Swaminathan as a salve to his conscience, and believed it for a moment. (p63)RK Narayan was the subject of criticism from some quarters for provincialism and a perceived failure to address and acknowledge the political and social climate, in particular the rising discontent represented by the growing nationalist movement ‘Quit India’.Having read all of Narayan’s works it is true to say they are anchored in the daily goings on of ordinary people living their lives in provincial India, South India at that, but to say he was politically naïve or unaware is simply wrong. Apart from the obvious works where political awareness and consciousness is apparent for example, Waiting for the Mahatma and The Painter of Signs (and even Mr. Sampath--the Printer of Malgudi), Narayan’s political and especially social acuity is present in all his work, including the present one.In Swami and Friends I was surprised, having first read it a decade ago, and retaining a clear memory of Swami’s character, but less of the events of the story, coming across his quite serious involvement in the protests arising out of the boycotting of Lancashire and Manchester cloth. It was a response to the impact of British woven cloth on the domestic product and the brutal tactics of some colonial manufacturers who cut off the thumbs of some Indian weavers.Swami gets caught up in a riot and has lathi-bearing policemen bearing down on him. He and his school friends take the opportunity to vandalise their school, breaking the headmaster’s windows, and another school nearby.This is serious peril and Narayan does not make light of it, although he takes pains to say the policeman reaching Swami, tapped him lightly on the head with his lathi.The major driver for Swami and his friends is then formation of a cricket team to play a challenge match. This represents the highpoint of his friendship with Rajam and Mani in particular. They organise themselves in an efficient manner, if not an entirely realistic one, especially their approach to the cricket supply company. They also have a naive belief that the government will help them with gear.The climax of the book is provided by the match itself and Swami’s part in it - which is to miss it entirely. Typical Narayan touch.School parade drill prevents him from getting to cricket practice and Swami ends up in front of the headmaster for skipping drill: Swami had done so because he believed a doctor who told Swami he would tee it up with the school. When he is hauled up before the headmaster, Swami realises the doctor has deceived him and was not treating him seriously (so he learns a valuable lesson about adults). As he is about to be punished, Swami grabs the headmaster’s cane and runs away, and gets lost overnight in the forest, thereby missing the match.His family reacts in different ways, Granny fretting and his mother sobbing, but father’s reaction is poignant, at first cheerfully aggressive, then concerned at whether his behaviour had caused Swami to flee, and then real concern, as he goes searching:He walked rather briskly up Hospital Road, but had turned back after staring at the tall iron gates of the hospital. He told himself that it was unnecessary to enter the hospital, but in fact he knew that he lacked the courage. That very window in which a soft dim light appeared might have behind it the cot containing Swaminathan all pulped and bandaged. [He continues his search reaching the river]…if the body of his son, sodden and bloated, should be stuck up among the reeds, and rocking gently on the ripples…He shut his eyes and prayed: ‘Oh, God, help me.’ (p158)After he is found Swami is fussed over by father’s friends. When they leave: Father went out with one of his friends. Before going he said, ‘Swami, I hope I hope I will not have to look for you when I come back.’ Swami was hurt by this remark. He felt it to be cruel and inconsiderate. (p173)Sensitive boy. It’s hard being a father, I have a nine year old and the more I learn, the less I know. Why is the boy so sensitive? Well, he’s not at all unlike Swami – an ocean and a century apart yet not so different when it comes down to it.Then there’s David Copperfield…A note about Coffee and tiffinThere are several references in the book to Swami enjoying coffee, which surprised me – the boy is ten after all. This is following his rescue:Mother had meanwhile disappeared into the kitchen and now came out with a tumbler of hot coffee with plenty of sugar in it, and some steaming tiffin in a plate. Swaminathan, quickly and with great relish, disposed of both. (p174)I have been saying to my young bloke that he can’t have coffee til he’s much older than his nine years, but I do want him to read the book, so I’ll have to risk further pressure from him for coffee and his idea of tiffin.* The Narayan Project is my undertaking to review all the great man’s work: 14 novels, six volumes of short stories, three works on Indian mythology, plus his memoirs My Days and My Dateless Diary: An American Journey and finally, a volume of essays A Writer's Nightmare: Selected Essays originally published in The Hindu between 1958-1988. 26 volumes in all. To be posted during 2016 and 2017.

  • Annette mathews
    2019-06-04 02:44

    I have heard many things about R.K Narayan . I am ashamed to say that I have not read a single book of his till now, him being such a renowned writer not to mention the fact that he was an Indian. I saw his books at a book fair recently.At first , I was hesitant to buy his books ,but then my dad compelled me ,So I ended up buying two of his books .Better late than never.The story is about Swami,Mani and Rajam who were foes at first but then went on to become great friends .What I like most in this novel is that I could connect with the characters ,be it Swami ,Mani or Rajam. There would have always been a swami/Mani/Rajam in our school days. At times ,I could relate with swami .It was ironic when Mani ,who was at loggerheads with Rajam in the beginning, was with him till the end .The writing is simple and clear.This story took me back to my childhood days, where I enjoyed life to the fullest, where the biggest problems was scoring low marks. No boss, No responsibility ,free as a bird.

  • umberto
    2019-05-25 23:31

    In fact, I enjoyed reading all of the 19 Chapters in the first Narayan novel since I'd never read him before. It's one of the novels published in the Everyman's Library series and I couldn't help admiring him as well as his writing style, narrative and sense of humour to the extent that I could visualize how the rural Indians lived in the remote country nearly similar to my rural Thailand some 55 years ago.I'm sorry I don't have the Everyman's Library hardcover nearby, therefore, I can't write my review in more detail in the meantime (I'd definitely write a more in-depth one whenever I can find the copy). In short, find this novel to read and you'd love Narayan as one of the pioneering Indian writers in the 20th century.All right, I've just found the hardcover in question.Some reasons why I'd like to encourage my Goodreads friends to read this novel:1) Each chapter is reasonably pleasurable for new comers, not too short or too long,2) Lots of dialogs, various types of discourse related to their contexts. Therefore, it's relatively convenient for you to grasp or understand the story as it develops. I think I prefer reading dialogs rather than lengthy narratives till we feel sleepy, drowsy due to the notorious effect of 'stream of consciousness', and3) an exemplary scene of discourse (Chapter 14):... He (the headmaster) rubbed his eyes, raised his eyebrows three times, yawned, and asked in a voice thick with sleep, 'Have you fellows no class?' He fumbled for his spectacles and put them on. Now the picture was complete -- wizened face and dingy spectacles calculated to strike terror into the hearts of Swaminathans. He asked again, 'To what class do you fellows belong? Have you no class?''I don't belong to your school,' Rajam said defiantly. 'Ah, then which heaven do you drop from?'Rajam said, 'I am the captain of the M. M. C. and have come to see you on business.''What is that?''This is my friend W. S. Swaminathan of Second C studying in your school...''I am honoured to meet you,' said the headmaster turning to Swaminathan. Rajan felt at that moment that he had found out where the Board High School got its reputation from.'I am the captain of the M. C. C.''Equally honoured...''He is in my team. He is a good bowler...''Are you?' said the headmaster, turning to Swaminathan.'May I come to the point?' Rajam asked.'Do, do,' said the headmaster, 'for heaven's sake, do.'... (pp. 107-8)I think this is enough as an introduction to the famous R. K. Narayan. One more point, he's the novelist honoured by Graham Greene as follows: "... Narayan (whom I don't hesitate to name in such a context) more than any of them wakes in me a spring of gratitude, for he has offered me a second home. Without him I could never have known what it is like to be Indian." (back cover, Everyman's Library)I'm sorry it's a bit lengthy but, as for me, I can't help being amused due to the headmaster's sense of humour and as we're children some 55 years ago (that is, in my generation then), with fond memories we still recall such kindness from our headmasters, teachers, parents, etc. when we timidly approached them and asked them for a possible favour.

  • Amalie
    2019-06-06 04:31

    Without a doubt, R K Narayan is one of the most famous Indian writers and a great story teller. His stories are gently humorous. Swami and Friends is one of his first published novels based on R. K. Narayan’s experiences as a village school teacher. There is absolutely nothing boring about this novel and is one of my favourite stories about children. Swami/Swaminathan is a ten-year-old boy in a small town in southern India called ‘Malgudi’ (The fictitious southern Indian town which is the setting for a large number of Narayan’s works.) just as Gandhi's independence movement is gaining traction. Swami pretty much Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, may be even more precocious and mischievous. He hates school, loves to play all the time (his greatest passion is the Malgudi Cricket Club which he founds together with his friends), snuggles beside his grandma every night, frequently gets punished by his father etc. He also has his own has his own gang of friends where he is the ‘ringleader’ of all the mischievous works. Swami and his best friend Mani live for their school vacations.While continuing his mischievous works, Swami manages to get thrown out from his school, participates or rather gets caught in Anti-British protests, runs away from home swearing he will never come back, has to face the terrible tiger all by himself, etc. This is a must read book. Highly recommended.

  • विकास नैनवाल
    2019-05-30 21:36

    It was a delight to meet you again, Swami. I can only say this, we'll meet again soon,my friend. Loved the book. Highly recommended.

  • Bigsna
    2019-05-27 04:36

    :-) Simple and sweet. Much enjoyed reading this very classic book that became the popular Malgudi Days on TV.RK Narayan picks up the tone of Swami and his friends so well. What I found really funny was how all the boys (Swami, Mani and Rajam)take themselves so seriously, when they haven't a clue about most things. One of the funniest incidents was when the boys decide to form a local cricket club and wonder if the government would charge them a tax for forming the club, as the government seemed to charge a tax for everything in the world. Its so funny how they mull ver this point for so long and with absolute seriousness. And when they are past this discussion, they decide to order equipment for their club, this is the letter they send to the supplier:Dear Sir,Please send to our team two junior willard bats, six balls, wickets and other things quick. It is very urgent. We shall send you money afterwards. Dont fear. Please be urgent. RegardsIn their world, it seems only they exist. The central character Swami is quite a selfish chap and I was nodding my head a couple times wishing I could give him a lesson or two. He gets into trouble most times because of this - but then I'm thinking most boys 6 or 7 years old cant be expected to think much beyond themselves. :)

  • Surabhi
    2019-06-04 03:47

    Swami and Friends is the first of a trilogy of novels written by RK Narayan, a celebrated English novelist from India. The novel, which is also Narayan's first, is set in pre-independence days in India, in a fictional town - Malgudi, which has almost become a real place in India today, due to the wide recognition and popularity of Narayan's many novels. His novels are known for their 'deftly etched characters, his uniquely stylized language and his wry sense of humor'.Swami and Friends is the story of a 10-year-old boy, growing up during this particular time, his innocence, wonder, mischief and growing pains. He is a student at Albert Mission School, a school established by the British which gives importance to Christianity, English literature and education. His life is dramatically changed when Rajam - a symbol of colonial super power - joins the school and he and Rajan become friends.The central theme of the novel is growing up of young Swami. He is a spontaneous, impulsive, mischievous and yet a very innocent child. His character is a child in the fullest sense of the world. Through Swami's eyes the reader gets to peak in to the pre-independence days in South India. The life portrayed in the novel is accurate in its description of the colonial days - the uprisings, the rebellions, the contempt and the reverence the natives had for their subjugator, together with varied elements that have become one, such as cricket and education.The novel, first intended for a very young audience, later expanded into a universal one, for its simple narrative and depiction of colonial India. Today in India it is recommended as a textbook or a reference book. One of the most glaring facts about the novel is the similarity of children through out the world, and how they have not changed since the time the novel was written. Children are all mischievous, impulsive and innocent like Swami. They all play and enjoy just like Swami, and try to circumvent doing homework by ingenious excuses and methods. Like Swami most children - even today- attend schools that do not nourish their heritage and culture, throughout the world including the US.The criticism of the educational system and the lack of faith in it is a common theme of Narayan. It runs throughout this trilogy Swami and Friends, The Bachelor of Arts and The English Teacher. Narayan's own father who was a principal did not think much of the system as Narayan and his many fictional characters, such as Swami, Chandran, Krishna, Sriram and a host of others. But the educational system comes under grave criticism in this trilogy, and discussed at length in The English Teacher. (Read The English Teacher web page in this site.) It is not that Narayan thought that education was useless, but rather that the school and education system founded by the British was irrelevant. He was maybe among the second generation of persons who received a formal education in India during the time, and saw how his grandparents and many other of his countrymen surviving, thriving and living as good human beings, perhaps even better than the 'educated folk,' without any education.

  • Mahima
    2019-06-07 20:21

    R.K. Narayan's writing is so beautifully simple that you just cannot help but appreciate it. Reading this book was like reading about a place that I have never visited (indeed I have never visited South India), but a place that feels like home. When you read something like this, you realize that when you're an Indian, every place in India, no matter if it is in the South or the North - with all its diversity, it is home.

  • Manish Purohit
    2019-05-20 23:51

    "Ye Daulat Bhii Le Lo, Ye Shoharat Bhii Le Lo, Bhale Chhiin Lo Mujhase Merii Javaanii, Magar Mujhako Lautaa Do Bachpann Kaa Saavan, Vo Kaagaz Kii Kashtii, Vo Baarish Kaa Paanii..." these magical lines by Sudarshan Faakir beautifully sums up the importance of childhood memories in our lives.'Swami and Friends' brings out that 'bachpann' in you which is silently hidden in some corner of your heart. There is something especial about this book that separates it from all other creative masterpiece. That persona of innocence and childhood charm which (I'm sure) everyone would have felt during his childhood days comes alive when one is reading this book & it takes you back in those days. Page by Page, incident by incident, chapter by chapter...you re-visit your childhood with the panorama of school days and mischief you played coming before your eyes.The book is about Swami (a child everyone must have lived his / her childhood with), his whole gang of friends & their adventure in the school. It beautifully captures the perspective of a ten year old boy towards school, adults & stuff around. The life during those days meant juggling around between classes, home work, playing mischief with friends, strolling in sun & making strategies to convince parents for the permission to play. Purity in thoughts & actions, something that even now brings silent smile to the face (Well...it did brought smile to my face when I was writing this). Added to this, the literary zest of R K Narayan really takes you to the magical world of Malgudi (which is essentially a virtual town in southern India) & its slightly eccentric people who are gullible and are still untouched by the winds of change sweeping over India.This is one of those books falling in the 'children fiction' category, which will provide the same (or infact more) joy to adults too as it makes them remember those forgotten cherished childhood moments. The sweetness and naturalness of the book makes it a must read for all...for the simple reason that we all deserve to feel that innocence & tenderness once again...as somewhere down the line, the thought always comes to each of our mind "Wish I could re-live those moments one more time" If the above thought have stirred your mind ever. . .Go this is a chance for you to steal some of them!!Rating: 5/5Visit the following link to read the detailed reviewhttp://www.musingsofawanderingheart.b...

  • Rishi Prakash
    2019-06-15 02:41

    I did come back to Malgudi Like I had said after reading "Bachelor of Arts"! And in 1 simple line I am thrilled to be at Malgudi even though it took me so many years! R.K.Narayan is just a genius without any doubt. His writing skills are exemplary; simple yet so effective. Swami must be one of his best characters for sure which I can convincingly say after reading this book. He is just someone who will never ever leave you once you get to know him. He is sweet, very funny, unpredictable and definitely unique :-) I can read as many books as I can get my hands on which have been written around him. Coming to this book, it is a simple story of Swami and his 6 friends set in the greatest village "Malgudi"; it has everything which a group of boys can do in 1930's and trust me they do have a lot of things to do!There are many parts in this book which will really make you laugh which i did many times while reading. There is this chapter where Swami is talking to his old grandmother and telling her about his friend; that entire interaction is absolutely hilarious. And if I have to pick one small paragraph from the book to give a flavour of what I am referring to then read the below lines:Once swami's father dictates arithmetic problem.Rama has ten mangoes with which he wants to earn fifteen annas. Krishna wants only four mangoes. How much will Krishna have to pay?Now read description of swami's state of mindswaminathan gazed and gazed at this sum, and every time he read it, it seemed to acquire a new meaning. He had the feeling of having stepped into a fearful maze...His mouth began to water at the thought of mangoes. He wondered what made Rama fix fifteen annas for ten mangoes. What kind of a man was Rama? Probably he was like Sankar. Somehow one could not help feeling that he must have been like Sankar, with his ten mangoes and his iron determination to get fifteen annas. If Rama was like Sankar, Krishna must have been like pea. Here Swaminathan felt an unaccountable sympathy for krishna.“Have you done the sum?” Father asked, looking over the newspaper he was reading.“Father, will you tell me if the mangoes were ripe?”You just have to read it- no matter what :-)

  • Jim
    2019-05-30 22:29

    R. K. Narayan is a Tamil writer who, like Faulkner, created his own little world, but in South India: The town of Malgudi. Swami and Friends is the first of his novels to be published, supposedly with the help of Graham Greene, who saw in him a master storyteller.And so he is. Swami and Friends is a story of childhood, of a young boy named Swaminathan and his good friends Mani and Rajam and their various run-ins with each other and the school administration. Eventually, they found a cricket club which falls apart when Swaminathan runs away from home, and Rajam and his family are transferred to another city.This is a sweet story which, like all of Narayan's tales, draws the reader in and makes him feel like a dhoti-wearing citizen of good standing in the wonderful world of Malgudi.

  • Dana
    2019-06-13 20:45

    I loved this book a lot!! R.K.Narayan is a pride to Indian literature. Simple and humorous!! Swami is great!!-- The fact that he got expelled from two schools in succession proves it!! I love the odd composition of Swami's friends. Mani- A guy who bangs up everyone in sight and is a constant presence in back bench, Somu- A sweet monitor with an easy mind, Sankar- A nerd, Rajam- A rich, modern boy. Their odd friendship is really interesting. Above all, the book is written in such a way that we see everything through the children's eyes, we talk their language and feel their horror, seriousness, humor etc.

  • Ajay
    2019-06-07 02:28

    Such a good book to read. By reading this book , I went back to feel my own childhood days and rejoiced it. The letter wrote by swami and rajam to the sports store in madras is a wonderful read. I could still visualise those words gripping my mind to enjoy their tenderness. When Swami was whipped with cane by his headmaster, I revived how I had the same beatings from my Chemistry master Tamil Raj.Thank god, I never had the guts to pull the cane from his hand and to run out of the school. The wild imaginations and dreams that I used to have in my childhood days are penned down here. When I read through it, I placed myself with the characters and enjoyed reading them every word.

  • Amit
    2019-06-09 03:22

    Kids growing up in an age before Satellite TV, Internet and Mobiles. Even after so many years you can still relate or maybe you know some kids exactly like Swami and his friends. Still makes me nostalgic after so many years. In my opinion better than Malgudi Days

  • Anuja
    2019-06-19 04:42

    An absolutely delightful read. Swami and Friends offers a refreshing view of village life in early 20th century India, seen from the perspective of a ten year old in all his innocence.

  • Kadbury
    2019-05-27 02:51

    Not as preachy as I remembered it to be .

  • Stephen Durrant
    2019-06-17 20:49

    This novel, as others have noted, has a kind of economy and innocence that cleverly reflects the modest adventures of ten-year-old Swami. Like so many of us at his age, Swami never quite understands the events surrounding him and his own, sometimes impulsive behavior. What is most important to Swami is his friends, and Narayan wonderfully portrays the shifting alliances and dreamy schemes of children. One must keep in mind that this is an Indian novel and thereby possesses features described with clarity in James Earl’s highly useful “How to Read an Indian Novel” (Literary Imagination, vol. 9.1, pp. 97-117), including a somewhat “hapless” central character caught in a world “without a particular realistic causality,” to quote Earl. In this case, such features may not only be typical of an Indian novel but of the way children, the central characters of Swami and Friends, so often experience the world.

  • Fiza Pathan
    2019-06-04 02:35

    Malgudi Schooldays was actually published as `Swami & Friends' when R. K. Narayan first wrote the stories of his child character Swaminathan & his adventures. We all love to read most of the time if not, books about our own lives & about people just like us. That's why many school stories & novels are popular. R.K. Narayan, the creator of the character Swami was well aware of this fact & so penned the adventures of a boy in Malgudi.There is however, a stark difference between the school boy Swami & other foreign & well-loved schoolboy characters. Swami is fully Indian & his story is set before India had won her Independence. However, certain childhood fears & preoccupations we notice are common in both the early 20th century Swami & even todays 21st century kids. E.g., the fear of examinations & rival boys etc. I doubt that the pre-Independence Swami however will ever go out of fashion. This is a character who lives on despite changes in technology...because this character is real & very genuine. All the characters in this book are completely real although technically speaking they are `made up'.But lets get to the bottom of R.K. Narayan's `Malgudi Schooldays'.Most of us who love reading already know that the south Indian town mentioned in this book is fictional & does not really exist just the way Narnia does not as well as Camelot. This town where Swami & his friends stay was created by Narayan for the purpose of literature & adventure.It is here where we are introduced to a boy called Swami (Swaminathan) who is mischievous & has a mind of his own. He like most of the school going children today does his homework at the last minute & incurs the wrath of his teachers as well as his principal (principals) which gets him into a lot of trouble at the home front as well. Like all school going children, he belongs to a group of friends who he associates himself with just the way you associate yourself with the group of friends that you belong to. His two greatest associates are Mani & Rajam the latter who is from an affluent household. Mani on the other hand represents the ruffian of the group who has more brawn than brain but towards the end of the book, becomes diplomatic & quite wise in a way (he makes Swami think that Rajam will write to him to make Swami feel better). Rajam the police superintendent's son on the other hand, enters the plot as a very proud & headstrong character but who never lets his wealth go to his head where his friends are concerned. He is partly generous (he gave Swami a green toy engine from his cupboard) & also is a person to mend broken friendships (it was in his house that all the friends of Swami puts aside their issues & befriend each other once again).In Swami's family we meet many formidable characters who are immortal not only because of R.K. Narayan but also because, we see such people in our own homes or families. The family of Swami consists of his over indulgent mother (who nags the husband), a strict father & a very forgetful & meek grandmother who gives into whatever Swami says blindly. Swami father runs the show in the family & is often the cause for Swami getting into a lot of trouble.It is well enough to note that R. K. Narayan himself had a father who was equally strict with the members of his household & an indulgent mother.The grandmother however, captured my interest the most. The reason for me being interested in the activities of the old grandmother is because of the way she is so important to the main character Swami without him realizing it (well, until his father makes him sleep alone in his office away from the grandmother). He sleeps with the grandmother, the grandmother tells him stories about the great warriors of India & she is the one who gives Swami a listening ear in the whole household. Note that R. K. Narayan also in the first formative years of his life was brought up by his grandmother (mother's mother) who had a great influence in his life. Swami's mother throughout the story keeps herself quite distant from the boy (but cries for him when he gets lost) while Swami's father has a military disposition in the bringing up of his son & never interferes with him. Till the end of the story we see that Swami holds a lot of ill feeling towards his father & his father's behaviour is not at all what one would call, compassionate. There is yet again a similarity between Narayan's own father & the father of Swami.There is always a bit of a funny bone in Narayan which also shows itself in this work especially during the legendary Satyagraha against the Albert Mission School where Swami takes a substantial part in & breaks the glass of the principals ventilator. He is also told to throw his cap into a bonfire which is first thought to be of foreign make but which in the end turns out to be quite Indian. The whole purpose of Gandhi's Satyagraha is warped here in the story where violence takes place among the protestors & no one knows the difference between Khadi & foreign cloth.Although we get morals like bravery, friendship, loyalty etc. from the narrative, it's the narrative itself that gives the reader pleasure beyond comparison. It acts like a mirror for youngsters to see their reflection & also gives us a glimpse of the corruption in the education system. Religious fanaticism is brought out through the unstable personage of the teacher Ebenezer but Narayan takes on this topic in his usual elementary manner without really hurting religious sentiment but showing us that religious fanaticism comes not from wisdom but, ignorance.On the whole, I appreciated this work especially the additions of two stories from the actual `Malgudi Days' which are masterpieces in their own right. Swami is a character who can evoke in us the uncertainties of childhood & its highs & lows.All in all, a really good read for the weekend.Fiza Pathan

  • Aruna Kumar Gadepalli
    2019-06-09 22:36

    A fine collection of Swami and his friends stories from the master storyteller who created Malgudi.

  • Minathi Mekala
    2019-06-20 22:29

    "Swami and Friends" goes deep into the problematic and celebratory moments we have with our friends and family at a young age. The book is set in a well-described but imaginary Malgudi. Throughout the book we get the inside view of our main character’s Swaminatham’s life. The book evidently doesn’t follow one particular plot line much like a sit-com television show. The book never gets us bored, because we are not shown one angle but several different angles of his life. The story follows the adventures and misadventures of a ten-year old boy and some of his friends, in and out of the school with the different people revolving around his life. With many different chapters and stories RK. Narayan gives us a few situations in which we can relate to as human beings.RK. Narayan cleverly differentiates between each character’s personality by showing us how they react to different situations thrown at them. Throughout the book we see how the personality's of these characters create or destroy problematic situations. Throughout the book we are given the ability to see Swami's layered and compelling saga of his childhood. The author uses effective and beautiful imagery to describe the setting of the book. This gives us more of an inside feel on how their lives are lived. Throughout the book we also experience a lot of playful and cliche dialogues that have been exchanged between the Swami’s and his inner circle of friends.My favorite story within the book would be the one considering matters of religion. I related to this story the most because of the debate that takes place between him and his teacher. This story was also my favorite because I have felt everything he had felt, of course a little differently due to the difference of setting him and I are set in. Each chapter had its own climax whether it be a regular class at school or an exam being taken in the school exam hall.Swami and Friends can help people of all ages rediscover and reminisce their childhood and live through it all over again just by reading this book. For people of the younger age, it can help them relate to the moments they experience with their friends, family and teachers. I would recommend this book for all ages. The book's beautiful writing and entertaining stories, will surely make the book one of those that you wouldn’t want to put down.

  • Fyza Jazra
    2019-06-01 20:38

    R.K Narayan started writing this book in 1930, right at the time when Faulkner published 'As I Lay Dying.' I was generously given a copy of an anthology of Narayan's novellas by a co-worker, and it remained on my bookshelf for a while-gathering dust. Recently, while researching for one of my assignments, I came across Narayan's name and his impact on the English language. I decided to pick up the anthology and read the first line for curiosity's sake and then leave it be. But somehow his words, his characters, his scenery gripped me and I couldn't let go. I usually read with a pen/highlighter/notebook in hand but for the novel 'Swami and Friends,' I read without any of these tools and just allowed myself to be engrossed in the story. The novella is mostly about three boys: Swaminathan, Mani, and Rajam, around six to seven years old who study at a Missionary Elementary School in British India. Narayan, like Faulkner, created for his novels a fictional town, he called it Malgudi and located in South India. 'Swami and Friends' is told from the point of view of Swami who is always getting into trouble. Mani and Rajam attempt to help him, but things never turn out as they plan and hence their adventures never stop. But alas, all good things must come to an end. It's a genuinely touching story, and I hated saying goodbye to the characters.I loved how the novel is narrated from the perspective of a young boy. Elements of the colonial times are also very delicately added: the political riots, Gandhi Ji chants, the English street names, the English mill owner, the Scripture teacher who considers Hindu Idols to be dirty, etc. I love the aesthetic of that time, and this novel made me feel nostalgic for the past. I ended up watching a period Merchant Ivory film. Also, Swami & Friends was apparently made into a TV series titled Malgudi Days in 1986 and is available on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEjfH...

  • Parikhit
    2019-06-05 22:28

    If there is one author who can mould the most trivial of all situations into a literary masterpiece it has to be R. K. Narayan. A writing that mirrors simplicity yet subliminal, R. K. Narayan has never failed to impress me. The fictitious town of Malgudi that forms the backdrop for most of his oeuvre is sincere, a representation of the realism found in the realms of any actual town or city and so are the myriad characters – be it the politician, a caricature of the khaki clad, the school headmaster more of a tyrant to his piteous urchins, the melancholic beggar, recalcitrant street mongrels, the dutiful wife or the grandmother with her share of never-ending stories and ever increasing affection.Swami and Friends is the first novel by R. K. Narayan. Here we meet mischievous Swaminathan; loitering and naughtiness are inseparable from young Swami. Narayan’s rural and native touch but at the same time refined to perfection make the ill-fated adventures of Swami a hearty read. The bittersweet friendship between Swami and his friends is an example of effortless writing and Narayan only excels. A terrible fight was to befall between Swami’s friends rather it humorously heralded the beginning of a new found friendship. Impetuous Swami’s adventures are many. He manages to get himself expelled from school owing his participation in the impending independence struggle; however, Swami’s vendetta was vented out for his school! A miserable impression he tries to make upon his upper class friend and it left me in splits. A ghastly adventure also awaits Swami when he elopes from home. And the cricket matches and preparation could not have been more jovial and humorous. The relationship he shared with his grandmother, though the moments were few, left me heavy. Highly recommended.

  • Karun Lal
    2019-05-31 20:26

    A small journey through childhood.Life has its own turn in its each stage.Swami follows his natural intuition.It leads him to a different path of childhood.R.K.Narayan wonderfully narrated the odd one out of Swami and his friends.It gives us a pleasant feeling.Realy enjoyed.

  • Karthik Sharvirala
    2019-05-22 00:45

    If I would want to truly visit a fictional town in this world ,it should be malgudi. Looks like this town has got everything in it what India could offer during it's imperial British reign.There is no greater creativeness than an book by an author who writes so elusively and enchantingly narrated in a ten year kid's perspective. If John Boyne gave us the finest Holocaust story through his book 'The boy in the Striped pajamas' narrated in a completely child's perspective, R.K Narayan didn't seem to bother about a point to concentrate on,rather his simple description about a boy's and his friend's story during Imperial India made this book so interesting and his ability to put truth in such a subtle way made me laugh,smile,reflect and immerse in the story. I strongly recommend one to watch the Malugudi Day's - Swami and Friends' TV series on YouTube after reading the book.The series didn't loose it's vitality and originality and I am sure it still make one to crave for reading many more works by R.K. Narayan

  • Jyothi Menon
    2019-06-05 02:26

    Outstanding book by RK Narayan, truly one of India's greatest writers. Set in the small town of Malgudi, the book is a narration of the tribulatoins of childhood as well as a description of the culture and context of pre-independence India seen through a child's eyes.Excellent description, great sense of humour and the child's blithe spirit pervades the whole book, bringing you alternately to laughter, joy and vexation. The young boy trying to be a man, buckling under peer pressure, close friendships, jealousies, rebellions, strategising to get himself out of unpleasant situations, his feelings towards his family and vivid imagination etc brings to life childhood in the olden days and will resonate with everyone and anyone who has spent his or her formative years in India.Nostalgia will pervade you as you read this book of bygone times, when childhood was not as complicated as now, and yet had a maturity of its own.Narayan's words takes you to a world, which you wish you could be a part of.Even after so many years, the words and effects are fresh and vivid.

  • Abhishek
    2019-05-30 04:33

    It is a magnificent story about the carefree and innocent days of childhood, the true essence of friendship, the much needed discipline of schools and yet the defiance of it. Malgudi blends into the map of India so beautifully that you start imagining it, the trunk road and river sarayu and the playground basking in afternoon heat. You go back to a time when and evening game was your only schedule, the homeworks your only deadlines and examination your only race for an appraisal. None of the characters dominate yet none goes unobserved not even PEA the puny kind with no talents. Tiny hints of Gandhi and the swaraj, slight meddle with politics yet the childhood not ruined by its excess. I read this book to ease my mind after reading two heavy books of Kafka and what a balm it was. Looking ahead to more of malgudi days.

  • Vaidya
    2019-06-06 21:34

    Reading any work of RKN was like a literary homecoming, to roam the streets of Malgudi, and observe the familiar characters go about their lives.After struggling to finish The Financial Expert, I had fallen out a bit on RKN and hadn't picked up another book for more than a year. I picked this up on a whim, just to see if I can get back. This is easily his best so far for me, better than The Painter of Signs. It's great to be back!How good a series Shankar Nag's Malgudi Days was can be gauged by how Manjunath, Girish Karnad and co slid into their respective roles when reading this book.

  • Shreedhar Manek
    2019-06-15 20:40

    The likability of this book depends entirely on how much one can relate with it and empathize with its characters. RK Narayan has done a wonderful fleshing out his characters from the perspective of an Indian kid in times before independence. His writing is descriptive and choice of words beautiful.Having said the above, I have to say I'm surprised to see certain aspects of the kids' behaviour. There were a lot of bits where the kids talked about killing and I reallly couldn't see myself doing the same at that age.This book subtly does justice to how horrific corporal punishment (which was omnipresent until not long back) is and its unintended effects on the psyche of children.I'd end this review saying that this book is like giving a blank canvas to a few kids and letting them fill it with the beauty of their choice of honest colours.