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Author: John Thieme

R. K. Narayan's reputation as one of the founding figures of Indian writing in English is re-examined in this comprehensive study of his fiction. Arguing against views that have seen Narayan as a chronicler of authentic ‘Indianness’, the book locates his fiction in terms of specific South Indian contexts, cultural geography and non-Indian intertexts. It draws on recent thinking about the ways places are constructed to demonstrate that Malgudi is always a fractured and transitional site – an interface between older conceptions and contemporary views which stress the inescapability of change in the face of modernity. Offering fresh insights into the influences that went into the making of Narayan's fiction, this is a wide-ranging guide to his novels to date.

John Thieme

charge that Narayan leaves his characters in mid-air is an index of a more general indeterminacy in his mode of writing, an elusiveness which is the antithesis of fundamentalist thinking; and his habitual use of irony frustrates unitary interpretation. Furthermore the actual, as opposed to the perceived, Malgudi of his fiction is always a fractured and transitional site, an interface between older conceptions of ‘authentic’ Indianness and contemporary views that stress the ubiquitousness and inescapability of change in the face of modernity. Malgudi is also seen from

in R.K. Narayan