Monday, 7 August 2006

Jhumpa Lahiri's Narayan Days.

Jhumpa Lahiri offers a novel way to enjoy Malgudi Days in a Malgudi month, and also comments lovingly on his collection of short stories:
Raised speaking Tamil at home, Narayan wrote from the beginning in English, a language that, as Ved Mehta points out in a profile he wrote of Narayan in The New Yorker, is “foreign to most of his countrymen and also to most of his characters.” Narayan’s father was a headmaster, and as a result Narayan had access to a library full of English books. His early literary diet included Scott, Dickens, Hardy, Conan Doyle, and Wodehouse. In My Days he recalls, “I . . . started writing, mostly under the influence of events occurring around me and in the style of any writer who was uppermost in my mind at the time.” Why Narayan chose to write in English and not Tamil is something I leave scholars of his work to ponder. As a reader I am simply grateful for the way Narayan, long before so many writers of Indian origin or background writing in English, beautifully knit together the subject matter of one place with the language and narrative tradition of another, achieving what Mehta aptly calls an “astonishing marriage of opposite points of the compass.”

4 comments:

  1. love narayan ... such gentle humour and great kindness ... he showed me an india i hadn't known before

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  2. I haven't read Narayan, but I think I have an unread book at home. I might also pick up the new Penguin Classic edition of Malgudi Days that contains this essay of Juhmpa Lahiri's...

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  3. ohmygod you found me! harhar.

    read 'the guide' for english lit. quite good actually, quite a storyteller =)



    jerusha.

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  4. Cool! All I got for litclass was Mockingbird and some poems...

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