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Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  595 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
This is an enchanting collection from India's foremost storyteller, rich in wry, warmly observed characters from every walk of Indian life - merchants, beggars, herdsmen, rogues - all of whose lives are microcosms of the human experience. Like Nambi in the title story, Narayan has the mesmeric ability to spellbind his audience. This he achieves with a masterful combination ...more
Paperback, 193 pages
Published October 25th 2001 by Penguin Classics (first published 1985)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Oct 07, 2012 umberto rated it liked it
Shelves: short-story, india
If we want to relax and have a good time with a book, I'd like to recommend R. K. Narayan to you. One of the reasons is that his narrative is interestingly superb added by lively discourse in different contexts in rural India. From these 28 short stories, the readers would gradually know typical lay Indians with mysterious aspects in their walks of life, especially the poor living in those remote areas with different adversities related to their social and financial plight. While reading some of ...more
Deepa Swaminathan
The creator of the fictional village Malgudi- R.K. Narayan has always charmed readers with the simplicity in his writings. His collection of the innocent, interesting and entertaining stories of Swami and his friends form an indispensable part of any Indian book shelf. Here is my take on one of his less known masterpieces- Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories.

This book has a collection of twenty eight delightful short stories of different colours, revolving around the ancient village - Malgud
John Stiles
Jun 21, 2015 John Stiles rated it it was amazing
What I like is the sense of humour and underlying social political commentary of Indian life, with almost no regard for Colonialism or that Raj era point of view. I can see why John Updike compared him to Dickens.
Another great discovery.
Feb 24, 2016 Nick rated it it was amazing
I can't think of another writer who shares Narayan's particular combination of qualities. It's rare to find writers who are as funny, for a start, but then you have the humanity, the gentle irony, the sheer charm, and just a note of underlying sadness. He's like a chef who combines flavours in a way that's perfect but all his own.

This collection of 28 stories, written over several decades, is deliberately presented in random order, which as Narayan himself says in his Introduction, reveals 'a st
Nesa Sivagnanam
Jun 07, 2011 Nesa Sivagnanam rated it it was amazing
A delightful collection from a favourite indian writer.

In Nitya, a rebellious young man refuses to honour a vow made by his parents in an ancestral temple long ago. They had promised that he would shave his head is he survived an illness.

A shopkeeper is made bankrupt by a charming stranger, who he welcomes into his home in A Career.

In other tales, a schoolteacher indulges for one traumatic day in the luxury of telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth no matter what the circumstances or
Glenna Barlow
Jan 21, 2014 Glenna Barlow rated it liked it
a rather pleasant read, more fables than short stories really. each with a particular twist or moral. one of the reviews said it captures india.. i'd have to amend that to it captures the spirit of rural south india about 50 years ago.
Oct 30, 2016 Ameya rated it it was amazing
RK Narayan’s wonderful set of short stories – Under the Banyan Tree, is what I’d like to classify as comfort reading. Because it seems achingly relate-able, warmly inviting and enticing the reader into its world, minus the shame of a voyeur. It is set in a milieu of the 1950’s to 1980’s I assume, in small towns across South India – which is I’m sure a world away from the India which we inhabit today. And yet, it draws you in with the constants of everyday life, the way we think and interact with ...more
Ashwin V
Oct 13, 2016 Ashwin V rated it it was amazing
Finest set of stories that I've read till date. Although to be fair, I've read only two books of Mr. Narayan (this one included) so far & I am sure I'm going to read all of his books. Addiction is the best word that describes Mr. Narayan's works.
Jul 07, 2013 Ajay rated it it was amazing
People often do read books for plenty of reasons. Obviously the major readers focus on to while away the time with reading. Some , despite their occupancy in errands of work, do find a hour a day to while away their stress with reading. So the books are meant for different purpose for different population. For me, as I have been an avid reader and a blind follower of RKN, my review would be full of perks and appreciations to the author and his pen man ship. Well, to align my comments to this ...more
Susan Oleksiw
Oct 15, 2013 Susan Oleksiw rated it it was amazing
This is a collection of 28 stories set in South India by one of the great writers of India. The stories are charming and often sad tales of ordinary people making their way through a life complicated by jealousy, stubbornness, greed, and just about everything else.

I have several favorites in this collection. "A Horse and Two Goats" is about an old man who has seen his herd dwindle to two goats. One day he encounters a foreigner who is very taken with a clay statue of a horse, the kind of small r
Oliver Wright
Aug 27, 2013 Oliver Wright rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, india
This is the kind of book that can rekindle interest in good storytelling. It's not pretentious, but it isn't so simplistic that voracious readers won't get anything from it. There's a large number of short stories here, and most are short enough to guarantee your attention by giving acute insight into the protagonists and their circumstances, with succinct but characterful prose. We're allowed to slip in and out of the lives of a delightful cross-section of the Indian people, leaving as quietly ...more
Rishi Prakash
Dec 31, 2013 Rishi Prakash rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has a collection of twenty eight delightful short stories of different flavour revolving around the ancient village – Malgudi. He is a master of short story which clearly comes out in this book. Every single story is unique and must read for the readers.

His principal subjects are universal ones: dissension between husband and wife, parent and child, employer and employee; the difficulty that people have earning a living, finding a mate, and maintaining a home; the growth of boys into
Sep 27, 2014 Meghana rated it really liked it
Reading R.K. Narayan's short stories is my favourite form of literary relaxation. His fictional village, Malgudi, is almost a vivid reality for me now, and it's a place I loved revisiting in these 28 engrossing short stories :)

As always, Narayan's simple stories offer glimpses into the intricacies and complexities of daily rural life, and address the entire gamut of human emotion. My favourite tale in this collection was 'Annamalai,' a touching story of the bond between an introverted writer and
Ryan Williams
Nov 18, 2012 Ryan Williams rated it it was amazing
Narayan wrote clearly and simply about India, usually in villages and small towns. He is best known for his novels the fictional town of Maludi, which he has immortalised as well as Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County. As good as The Guide or The Vendor of Sweets are, I always felt the short story was better suited to his talent. He packs an amazing richness of pathos, emotion and crisp reportage, and often into barely a dozen pages.
Dec 06, 2014 Eric rated it really liked it
I saw some good reviews of books by this author, and picked this collection of short stories to see if I could get any insights into what it would be like to live in India. I feel that the book did give me an an idea of what it be like to have lived in a small town in India earlier in the 20th century. Lots of interesting characters in these stories, and the stories usually have interesting twists. Most of the time, the stories ended much differently than what I would have expected.
Arnab Biswas
Jul 26, 2013 Arnab Biswas rated it really liked it
আর কে নারায়নের নাম আগে শোনা ছিল সনি টিভিতে মালগুড়ি ডেজ নামে এক টিভি সিরিয়ালের দরুন। এখন আমার হাতে আছে তার তিনটা বই , এই বইটাতে মোট টা ছোট গলপ আছে।
সুপাঠয, পরাঞজল ভাষায় এবং অতনত দরদের সাথে পরতিটা গলপ লিখে গেছেন তিনি। পরতিটা গলপেই তিনি ধরে রাখতে পেরেছেন অসমভব উততেজনা, কি হয় কি হয়, এবং সেটি গলপের শেষ লাইন পরযনত নিয়ে গেছেন।
পরতিটি চরিতর কে খুব চেনা মনে হয়, মনে হয় ঘটনা গুলো যেন আমাদের পাশেই অথবা আমাদের সাথেই ঘটছে।
Jul 16, 2012 Terry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
This book of short stories was interesting to me because it showed that stories don't have to have a definite ending to be good. These are short incidents in larger stories that continue in readers' minds. In each story one character is involved in a struggle and developed . It is fun to read about Indian life.
May 18, 2016 Aanu rated it really liked it
RKN sir's short stories could do to you what so many hundreds of pages could not.
It makes us feel for characters, laugh at them, along with them..
Best company for a rainy indoor day or at journeys:)
May 28, 2015 Ashwinmudigonda rated it really liked it
Superb character sketches. Annamalai was beautifully written. However many of the stories didn't seem to resolve quite well.
Ananda Rajeshwaran
Mar 18, 2011 Ananda Rajeshwaran rated it liked it
shows some clue about how RK.Narayan became the story teller whom we know. Shows the source of his makings
Nov 05, 2008 Sandra rated it liked it
Excellent book- something for ages 12 and up. Combination of coming-of-age, troubled home, and internal growth.
Aug 21, 2012 Rajesh rated it really liked it
Simple, down to earth and grounding stories that would make one yearn for simple uncomplicated life.
Sep 05, 2011 Mel rated it liked it
This is a QT book of stories. Something to touch base with when you're reading a much bigger book. lol
Aug 27, 2011 Judith rated it really liked it
That Narayan....what a writer! what a storyteller! There's a little bit of everything here: funny stories, sad ones, some that make you mad. I love his proper English with a sweet Indian twist.
Shinuna Said
Sep 08, 2012 Shinuna Said rated it really liked it
A collection of stories ..very colourful display from all walks of life, a prostitute, a madman, a beggar, lawyer etc..each has their own unique story...wonderful!
Vani Iyer
Vani Iyer rated it liked it
Jan 28, 2016
Anvesh Medarametla
Anvesh Medarametla rated it liked it
Jul 18, 2016
Raghuram Annadana
Raghuram Annadana rated it really liked it
Apr 13, 2014
sreekrishna rated it liked it
Oct 27, 2013
Jaydipmehta rated it really liked it
Jun 18, 2013
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R. K. Narayan is among the best known and most widely read Indian novelists who wrote in English.

R.K. Narayan was born in Madras, South India, in 1906, and educated there and at Maharaja's College in Mysore. His first novel, Swami and Friends and its successor, The Bachelor of Arts, are both set in the enchanting fictional territory of Malgudi and are only two out of the twelve novels he based the
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