THE MAN-EATER OF MALGUDI by R. K. Narayan

THE MAN-EATER OF MALGUDI

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A small fable of many meanings returns to the little village in India of Narayan's earlier and highly distinctive novels which take much of their character from the metaphysics of the East-the timelessness, and the stasis, and again the sudden contrasts between the contemplative pursuit of the infinite and the inconsequential trivia of everyday life. Natraj is a printer, and his days are spent in ceremonius (rather than productive) busyness, along with his friends, a poet and a journalist. A stranger comes to the village, the overpowering and overbearing Vasu, a taxidermist, who moves into Natraj' attic and fills it with dancing girls and the carcasses of wild animals. Before long Natraj realizes that Vasu is a dangerous character- a ""maneater.. with the same uncertainties and the same potentialities"" but he is unable to get rid of him. His position with the law is anomalous (Vasu is neither a tenant nor a friend) and he lacks the personal courage, pursuing as he does (like India) a policy of drift and non-violence which leads to inertia, while justifying cowardice. Finally when Vasu threatens to shoot a sacred temple elephant, Natraj makes one pusillanimous move against him- only to learn the next day that Vasu has been killed, although his death leaves further dangers for him to face.... Narayan's India -- almost untouched by the western world- is fascinating and filled with contradictions: ignorance and wisdom; poverty and lavish ritual; and above all the humor of absurdity. It has earned him a special, dedicated audience.

Publisher: Viking