Sep 9, 2007

Man-eater of Malgudi

It's been a long time since I touched my RK Narayan collection. Before I left for Vythiri, I took this book from my home library, hoping to read atleast half of this book during my vacation. Thanks to the heavy rains, I finished reading this book in the past three days. It's always refreshing to read RKN after a while. The town of Malgudi, the people and their lives, the characters and their attitudes are very similar to any other RKN novel.

This story is about the lives of a printer Nataraj, his helper Sastri and his friends and how their day-to-day lives get affected by a taxidermist Vasu. Nataraj is a friendly person by nature and he doesn't have the ability to say No. Vasu comes to his life and inflicts pain to Nataraj and others in the village in many ways. How the villagers cope with the complications caused by Vasu and what happens to Vasu in the end is what this story is all about.

The characterization of Nataraj and Vasu is so clearly written that you feel so sorry for the poor Nataraj and feel very angry with the actions of Vasu. You can easily relate to the other characters, be it the tea vendor, Muthu, the poet or the journalist. Every character in this story has a well-etched personality to it. The story is gripping and at times, you wonder what's going to happen to the evil Vasu in the end. The climax was disappointing and the way Vasu dies is a bad end. A man of such evil and atrocious qualities should have faced a tough death. Though the author has tried to link the coincidence of Rakshasa in Hindu mythology and Vasu, the evil character deserves a worse death. The subtle humour that is prevalent in almost all of RKN's novels is somewhat missing in this story. Anyway, it's a good read, very typical of RKN and Malgudi.

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