Thursday, January 08, 2009

Swami and Friends by R K Narayan - Book Review

Swami and Friends was the first novel written by RK Narayan. I completed reading this novel yesterday. It is part of a collection of 3 novels called A Malgudi Omnibus, others being Bachelor of Arts and The English Teacher. I just started reading Bachelor of Arts. In this review, I will not give summary of the story as it will spoil the thrill when one reads the novel.

As is the case with all Narayan works, this novel is also set in an imaginary town in South India called Malgudi. Swaminathan is a young boy less than 10 years old. This novel narrates his experiences with his parents, grandmother, friends, residents of Malgudi, and even his new-born brother when he is in second class. However, Swami and his friends are the prime focus of this novel.

Swami is a quite different child than the present day children. He lives in a village and he is extremely innocent which sometimes makes him look mischievous as well. His fate lands him in trouble in whatever he does. He has his own perception of the world and tries to be the conqueror in spite of his own shortcomings like fear, innocence, etc. Circumstances make him a mis-fit to any school in Malgudi.

On the other hand, his friend Rajam is a city-born child who acts beyond his age quite similar to the present day children. He is very ambitious and courageous with least respect for the elders. His father is a policeman which is also a reason for his courage. Apart from being very good in studies, he is very adamant to achieve things which are beyond his reach and is not bothered by the consequences of his present actions.

There is another friend of Swami called Mani who is a village version of courageous child. Even though he is courageous, his innocence mostly overtakes that. He is very close to Swami and offers him lot of advice even when not asked. He also carries a club which he feels will protect him in adverse situations.

The incidences which involve these three close friends form the crux of the novel. Swami has a strict father, a kind grandmother, and a mother who loses interest in him once she gives birth to a new baby. The novel is pretty slow to start with and provides every small detail which form the base for the fun later. I will just provide some of the instances which I thoroughly enjoyed from this novel.

Ultimate fun awaits the reader in chapter 12. Swami and Mani listen to a freedom fighter's talk. The freedom fighter blasts the English rulers very much. He tells that if all the people of India go and spit on England, that is more than enough to submerge the whole England. I personally think it is quite true, unless one disproves it by actually making millions spit on England. Swami also thinks it is true and asks Mani if they can attempt that. Mani replies saying Europeans are very bad guys and they will shoot them. This chapter progresses in such a manner and engages reader with non-stop fun.

Swami's encounters with the Board school headmaster is also equally enjoyable. The attitude of that headmaster took me back to my school days when some of my teachers used to carry canes to beat students and treat the students as their slaves. Swami becomes a super-hero when he grabs and throws the cane away when the headmaster attempts to beat him. After that, his conscience makes him feel sad and leads to other troubles.

Malgudi Cricket Club (M.C.C.) which is started by Swami and his friends took me back to my school days when we also tried to start a cricket team called Danger Boys. The letter they write to Binns sports shop in Madras and the other happenings are great to read.

On the whole, Swami and Friends is an amazing novel and I do not think I would be reading a better novel ever. The novel took me to my school days and I could relate many of the Swami's experiences to my own. This novel is an unadulterated and absolutely thorough portrayal of a child's life. It is rather unfortunate that most of the present day children have their so called intelligence suppressing innocence associated with their age.

Having said that, I am sure that one can find many children like Swami in Indian villages even today. This novel is a must read for any one who want to roll back their years and enjoy the innocent moments of their life.

40 comments:

dev said...

DANGER BOYS.!!! i cant imagine u in such a team... at this point.!

Balaji A said...

Nice review. I'll read this book if I get a copy of it when I come to India.

Diya Banerjee said...

hi everyone, after reading this review i am planning to read the book.

janani said...

JANANI
a very nice story and very nice review when i come to india i will try to read this book

adeebasana said...

outihi every1!! Nicee review....
N i read this book its..
cooooll..n interesting to readdd!!!

adeebasana said...

hi every1!! nice review n i read this book too ... interesting
coolll...!!<3

Bhavna said...

summary nahi likhoge to hum bachche test kaise denge????

Anonymous said...

hi
a very nice review.......i too enjoyed reading about m.c.c
-keerthi.

Nitant said...

gr8 review!! help me in making mine project... hehehe !!!
n
also increase mine interest in reading the complete novel...

Saravanan Veerabhadran said...

well its great review, it kicked me to bye a bood and respect the art.

Thanks Shanmugam

jitendra said...

Hi friends this novel is very nice and i had developed a good interest in reading novel
THANKS FOR DA REVIEW

Anonymous said...

gr8 work.....helped a loy in my project.................thnxxxxxx

madhushree said...

I just read this book and its really a good novel,the novel is very simple to understand..each and every chapter has some new interesting stories..R.K naryan is an awsome writer..:-))

Anonymous said...

hey......thanx a lot for the review..it help me in my assignment.

Anonymous said...

thnx a lot.....it helped in my english project :D

aisha said...

this review helps me a lot for my project....
the first comment which i send that the review is bad........i was just joking...sorry
and
thanxxxxxxxxxxxxx..........

sricharan said...

gr8 thank u buddy

true u may dont no me but i am so benifited with this

arjun of ps.sen.sec school said...

nice review anna
helps me in my project

jaya said...

good review... thankk you

Anonymous said...

Gr8 review!! helped me in my project
read the book....liked it alot!!!

Tarun Singh said...

hey ...thanx a lot for the review.
it helped me a lot in doing my holiday's h/w.

PS:visit my blog space http://glarygadgets.blodspot.com

Anonymous said...

I could'nt agree better!!
thanks a lot for this review as it helped me a lot for my english project!! :)

Anonymous said...

nice
-Don

Hari Rajagopal said...

The book Swami And Friends is so enjoyable.Your review has made it something more enjoyable.It is fabulous and excellent

rohit said...

An enjoyable read Swami and Friends by R. K. Narayan . loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.

Blooming Amna said...

After reading this review i am planning to read the book!!!

puru said...

this review is awsome for me because it helped me lot in making project!!!!!!!!!!!!! thanxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for helping me

Anonymous said...

hey it was a funny review and helped in my project thank u....

Anonymous said...

ohohohohohoh... what a review budy .. it helped me a lot in my project.... thnkx.. n kee it up... and aftr reading this review i wud like 2 read d book...!!!!!

Anonymous said...

thanx.....it helps a lot

Anonymous said...

Hey there, awesome review, really helped me with my homework and it also persuaded me to go read this amazing book. Thanks a lot. :)

Harin said...

Nice review i used it for my Project
keep up the good work

Kevin Kansara said...

nice review

aamjunta said...

another master piece by shanmuga and RK Narayan.... enjoyed :)

Harshad said...

R.K. Narayan's novel=

Shanmuga's Book Review

V.Good.....

Love SMS said...

It is a delightful book. It will make you laugh.
And it will make you wonder how RK Narayan managed to captue the world of a ten-year-old boy so precisely.

Jananee said...

After reading your review,I read this book 2 years before.Awesome and interesting both the book and your review!!

Rahul said...

You can not deny that R. K. Narayanan is # 1 author when it comes to short stories and books with high social and moral values.This book is no exception.The story is great and flows smoothly.The author takes to pre independence time to children from different family background and the bond between childhood friends.This book is a great read.(y)

Ambika Aggarwal said...

i want summary of swami and friend in 1000 words and chief character of th novel in 200 words...pls write it soon!!

Ambika Aggarwal said...

i want the summary of the novel swami and friends in 1000 words and the chief character of the novel in 200 words ...please write it soon!!