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The Man-eater of Malgudi (Penguin Modern Classics) (original 1961; edition 1993)
by R. K. Narayan (Author)
The Man-Eater of Malgudi by R. K. Narayan (1961)
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A delightful comedy from R.K. Narayan, with a story that has a printer taken advantage of by a customer who comes in one day. The guy is a bully, and through the force of his will, gets the printer to let him stay in his attic. He’s a taxidermist who skirts conservation authorities to sneak into nearby jungles and kill endangered species, so the smell of his work pervades the area. He also has several prostitutes coming in and out of his room, as well as intimidates the printer’s circle of friends with his gruffness. He’s a pretty infuriating fellow (and may infuriate the reader!), but Narayan has a light touch which helps.
The book alludes to the mythological story of Bhasmasura, a powerful demon who could turn anyone he touched into ashes, and there is a parallel to the bully in the story. It’s also got a few references topical to India in 1961, and does a pretty good job at transporting the reader to this time and place. It got a little bit melodramatic as it played out and perhaps could have been shorter, but overall, worth checking out.
I gave this book five stars because it puts me in India, it recreates the sights and sounds. I love the way this book is so enjoyable to read with heartfelt characters. The tension in the story that builds between Nataraj and Vasu is really great. Narayan really gets the Indian personality with polite manners and a hatred of confrontation all ready to blow up in anger. Quite simply a lovely book.
So charming, so warm, so lovable. This is the book that turned me on to the restrained genius of Narayan.
The book was humorous in places. I was disappointed by the abrupt and stupid ending though.
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This is the story of Nataraj, who earns his living as a printer in the little world of Malgudi, an imaginary town in South India. Nataraj and his close friends, a poet and a journalist, find their congenia l days disturbed when Vasu, a powerful taxidermist, moves in with his stuffed hyenas and pythons, and brings his dancing-women up the printer's private stairs. When Vasu, in search of larger game, threatens the life of a temple elephant that Natara j has befriended, complications ensue that are both laughable and tragic.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813 — Literature English (North America) American fiction
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The printer has an attic, and his misfortune is to clear it out at the same time that he meets a major manipulator. This dude is a strongman and a macho and a poacher. He kills any and all animals, with not the least bit of love, and stuffs them. His ending is the perfect karma for him and was a happy one for the printer and reader, alike. ( )