This is my second RK Narayan book; second hand, bought from Blossoms on Church Street 👉 A Sunday browsing second hand books🍭📚
My first RK Narayan book was a travel book The Emerald Route 👉 Celebrating Karnataka: Beyond Bangalore🌱
I have not read his most famous books with setting in the the town of Malgudi, someday; till then the two books I have are absolute delights. The book Salt & Sawdust is a collection of short stories and snippets; non-fiction. Real life in RK Narayan’s hands seem more appealing that reel life !
Humour is a common thread that weaves through all the stories, even the serious ones. Only the author can create such memorable moments in such simple lines. The stories are light hearted yet filling.
The first story titled Salt & Sawdust as per the author was inspired by a Dutch lady who wrote a laborious novel which the publisher said will do well as a cookbook. And with a few modifications, it was published and became a best-seller as a cookery book ! But there is a twist in the tale ☺️
The section titled Table Talk has a host of articles written by the author for the Frontline magazine. The Table Talk opens with the satire of buying a TV wayback in the old days, but only to receive Hindi programmes; Hindi though is the national language, people in South hardly learn it and are more comfortable with English. The author protests with these lines… “To be shut up in a little room with a loudspeaker blaring, used to be an ingenious form of political torture in certain European countries at one time, now to be compelled to sit through a prolonged session listening to an unintelligible language seems also a torment, though in a lesser degree.” He also gives a few hints on how to alleviate the situation 😊.
He writes about President Ramon Magsaysay, a delightful story unknown to me until now. Politics, daily life, misadventures are all topics in the various essays and each one will tickle the funny bone. “Why did Diogenes, the Greek philosopher live in a tub?… I have the answer now, because he could not get out of the tub, as I myself realized recently…”
Teaching in Texas is a chapter I liked a lot; the author goes to teach in US and the students read R K Narayan’s books. The ensuing discussions throw light on differences in the cultural and philosophical values and are refreshing to read. “Why are the women characters in your stories so spineless? In Malgudi Days, your stories are all about down-and-out persons. Why didn’t you choose to write about better lives?” the students question the author about his work !
The stories are short and sweet. They are set in a far away decade but still continue to amuse. That’s the magic of R K Narayan’s writing. The cover illustration is by his famous brother RK Laxman !
Till next post, take care !!