The Guide: Book Review
Book Title: The Guide
Author: R.K. Narayan
Publisher: Penguin Classics
My Rating: *****/5
About The Author: R. K. Narayan, (born October 10, 1906, Madras [Chennai], India—died May 13, 2001, Madras), one of the finest Indian authors of his generation writing in English. He was famous for his works set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi.
This is just an attempt to bring the spotlight back onto a great book by an Indian author. Not that it's forgotten, but because this beautiful book needs to be celebrated more as the years go by....
'The Guide' is a novel written by the illustrious author in 1958, which brought him the 1960 Sahitya Akademi Award for English, by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters. So it is pointless to even try and review such a great novel that was also adapted into the Filmfare Awardee movie of 1965 starring Dev Anand as the protagonist Raju Guide and the ever gorgeous lady Waheeda Rahman playing Rosie the danseuse.
The immaculate storytelling progresses in two POVs- one told in the first person by Raju Guide himself about his childhood, and how the first Railway station of Malgudi was built turning the lazy town into the hub of tourism. Told in the third person, we are drawn into the tale of Railway Raju a tour guide of great renown, who loses focus and is corrupted after he falls in love with a beautiful dancer- Rosie, the wife of an archaeologist Marco. While Marco is busy exploring the wall paintings in the caves around Malgudi- the fictional town in South India, there's a clandestine relationship blossoming between Rosie and Raju.
The glamorous woman quits her husband's side and drops herself like a bomb in the unassuming Raju's humble life. Raju supports her dreams and turns into a manager for her dancing career as Nalini- the captivating danseuse. Soon the couple are living a life of luxury and wealth.
What changes Raju's fortunes again throwing him behind bars, just when everything was working like a smoothly oiled machine? By the end of the story, it is enchanting to see how Railway Raju metamorphoses into a Swami by the riverside in a nearby village, and also gains a maddening crowd of followers.
Packed with drama, the storytelling smoothly takes the reader back and forth in time, through the ups and downs in their romance. I've read and re-read this book multiple times over the past two decades, and even this time around I couldn't help but feel utter pity for the disoriented Raju, and feel a twinge of disappointment with Rosie.
Spectacular, ever-green story, undoubtedly a MUST READ!
This book was also read for the Fiction-NonFiction Challenge 2021 #FNFReads2021 with @VinayLeoReads for the category: A book with a verb in the title