An enchanting collection from India's foremost storyteller, rich in wry, warmly observed characters from every walk of Indian life - merchants, beggars, herdsmen, rogues - all of whose lives are microcosms of the human experience Like Nambi in the title story, Narayan has the mesmeric ability to spellbind his audience. This he achieves with a masterful combination of economy and rhythm, creating haunting images and a variety of settings to evoke a unique paradox of reality and folklore. For the latest books, recommendations, offers and more. By signing up, I confirm that I'm over View all newsletter. We use cookies on this site and by continuing to browse it you agree to us sending you cookies.

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They are often clever and always charming; still, from such an obvious talent, one wishes for more than one gets here. I stumbled upon this collection by Indian author R. This is one of those rare instances where I have come across an author and realized I had no recollection of ever reading any of his work.

As with another writer new to me, Yasunari Kawabata , I expected great things. Kawabata did not disappoint. While the pieces in this volume are full of charm and turn a clear eye on the character of Indian daily life, they are mainly character sketches rather than stories. So while he writes in the language of the Raj , his insights are those of his own country as seen by one of its own. There are 28 pieces in Under the Banyan Tree , most of them so brief that the term I used earlier, sketch, is more descriptive than short story.

Henry at times , is able to distill incidences into their essences as well as any of those mentioned writers he is especially like De Maupassant and Saki in his brevity, like Chekov and O. Henry in his love of the alternation of humor and pathos, and like all of these in his affection for the twist ending. I will go away to my parents…. Given that both shepherd and wife are well past 70, her threat is more comic than dire. The shepherd, however, is more bemused than anything else.

He gets his position as gardener in the way that he gets through one event after another in the story — partly by bluff, partly by simply ignoring the real situation and doing as his whimsical personality dictates.

We get very quickly that Annamalie is a goofball and that the narrator is alternately amused and frustrated by his eccentricities. And yet the story recounts for us an ever increasing list of these eccentricities — and to what end? Annamalie leaves — as unexpectedly as he appeared. But the truth is, this could have been handled as well, likely better, in words rather than in the Narayan spends on the tale. One last story will nicely close this essay. He lives in a temple dedicated to the goddess Shakti one might think of this as analogous to living with a Muse and not be incorrect who, it seems, gives him the power of telling stories.

Then one evening Nambi begins a story — and cannot go on. He attempts to continue for several nights, but his gift has left him. In vain he tries various methods of regaining his talent but none works.

Finally, he calls together the village and relates this to them:. It is the Mother who gives the gifts, and it is she who takes away the gifts. Nambi is a dotard. He speaks when the Mother has anything to say. He is struck dumb when she has nothing to say. But what is the use of the jasmine when it has lost its scent?

What is the lamp for when all the oil is gone? Goddess be thanked…. These are my last words on this earth; and this is my greatest story. One is tempted to believe that this entire collection was worth the reading for that last sentence of its last story. I shall look forward to reading more of his work. You are commenting using your WordPress.

You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. The New Southern Gentleman. Skip to content. Home About. Posted on April 16, by Jim Booth. Under the Banyan Tree by R. Narayan image courtesy Goodreads. Share this: Twitter Facebook. Like this: Like Loading About Jim Booth Novelist, college professor, rock musician - are we getting the band back together?

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Book review: R.K. Narayan's 'Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories'

Under the Banyan Tree by R. Be it a writer, a painter, or a film maker, I think his worst fear is that one day he would lose his magical touch, he would no longer be able to compose stories, paint serene views or create superhit movies. And, Narayan, in his quintessential simple style, gave a new meaning to this fear. As Tagore said, a poet can compose only as much as God allows him to do. So, does Narayan portray the story of Nambi, a temple priest who lived in Somal, a small village in mempi hills.


Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories

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Under the Banyan Tree

Jump to navigation. Reading a collection of R. Narayan's stories is rather like taking a country bus through rural India, stopping to pick up a party of pilgrims at the foot of a hill crowned by a temple, a villager loaded with baskets of forest produce, some schoolboys in a dusty village square, or at a tea stall for some refreshment at noon, then meandering through small towns where "cottages sprawled anyhow and the lanes twisted and wriggled up and down and strangled each other". It is a kind of pilgrimage without a destination, one on which one might meet a sadhu , a harlot, a trickster, a monkey-trainer, an actor, just anyone picked - seemingly at random - from the Indian masses. There is one mystery: the bus moves so smoothly, it neither bumps nor rattles, the only sound is a gentle hum.


Narayan , set in and around the fictitious town of Malgudi in South India. The stories range from the humorous to the serious and all are filled with Narayan's acute observations of human nature. The concluding story, Under the Banyan Tree , is about a village story-teller who concludes his career by taking a vow of silence for the rest of his life, realizing that a story-teller must have the sense to know when to stop and not wait for others to tell him. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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