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The Guide: A Novel
 
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R.K. Narayan
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The Guide: A Novel

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  4,947 ratings  ·  239 reviews
Formerly India’s most corrupt tourist guide, Raju—just released from prison—seeks refuge in an abandoned temple. Mistaken for a holy man, he plays the part and succeeds so well that God himself intervenes to put Raju’s newfound sanctity to the test. Narayan’s most celebrated novel, The Guide won him the National Prize of the Indian Literary Academy, his country’s highest l ...more
Paperback, 220 pages
Published April 24th 1980 by Penguin Books (first published 1958)
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Shilpi Saha I would think they were similar as far as the female protagonist is concerned. In both the lady wanted to go beyond social norms and bindings and try…moreI would think they were similar as far as the female protagonist is concerned. In both the lady wanted to go beyond social norms and bindings and try something she wanted...a rare in that era. As far as the breakdown of marriage....in ruined nest and in guide the story of the other half was totally different. I liked the character in "The ruined nest" more as in "The Guide" Rosie's husband was not described....was not attended to. As far as the troublemaker in both stories :) they both were the means for the protagonist to realize her true potential....her call....poetry for Charulata and dance for Rosie. Rosie continued....and Charu....thats upto the readers imagination.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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K.D. Absolutely
Jul 22, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: india, classics, 1001-core
Those of you who think that Indian novels are always about sadness and despair of poor people, must think again. This book, The Guide by R. K. Narayan is funny. Unlike let's say, The God of Small Things or The Inheritance of Loss, this book will not make you squirt some tears from your eyes. Rather, when you close the book, you'll be happy yet mesmerized by its beauty.

It's beauty is not really in the narration or innovative storytelling. The novel's beauty is its ability to show you the traditi
...more
Petra X
First book of 2014.

Narayan's The Guide is a good story about a man who is a tourist guide who does his absolute best to please his customers honestly or dishonestly, as is the nature of tourist guides everywhere. But he is brought low by romance and becomes a bit of a rogue. I don't want to spoil the story by writing out the plot but eventually, from the absolute depths a man can sink to, he rises on the back of being thought a holy man. His innate moral sense overrides his desire for an easier
...more
Stephen Durrant
My friend Jim Earl recently wrote an excellent article entitled "How to Read the Indian Novel." This article was the culmination of reading sixty Indian novels over a fairly short period of time. His favorite Indian novelist of the many he read is R.K. Narayan. So I picked up Narayan's "The Guide" and read it with some words from Jim ringing in my ears: "Narayan always seems simple and easy to read, but he leaves one with much to ponder." Yes indeed. Raju, the central character in this novel, is ...more
Smitha
May 13, 2011 Smitha rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of Indian fiction
it has truly been described as a 'pensive comedy' - this is the story of Raju, an ordinary middle class man in South India, who vicariously rose to the height of fame, had a plunging fall, then again rose up like the phoenix to become a swamiji, a demi-god. More than Raju, I sympathize with Rosy, the dreamy eyed girl, whose only passion was dance, for which she had to suffer. Her husband left her, she took up with Raju, but then Raju soon became somewhat like a mercenary feeding upon her income. ...more
rahul
Just quoting from the song written by Shailendra for the movie, sung by none other the great S.D Burman.


kehte hain gyaani,
duniyaa hai faani
paani pe likhi likhaayi
hai sabki dekhi,
hai sabki jaani
haath kisike na aayi
kuchh tera naa mera,
musafir jaayega kahaan
dam lele ghadi bhar,
ye chhaiyyaan,
payega kahaan
wahaan kaun hai tera


O traveller.. where will you go..

Learned people say,
this world is a mirage
everything is written on water
it is seen by all, it is experienced by all
but no one has understood it
no
...more
Katie
This is the first of Narayan's novels that I've read, and I was bothered by it in the same way I'm always bothered by stories that sacrifice psychological verisimilitude for the sake of plot. Raju, the main character, begins the book as an unethical, opportunistic, but essentially likable fellow; as the story goes on he transforms first into a money-grubbing, misogynistic, self-serving asshole, and then into some semblance of a holy man. I don't have a problem with characters undergoing changes, ...more
Paul
The writing is quite spare and there is little description of the backdrop of the novel, apart from what is necessary.
The Guide is about Raju, who tells his story in the present and past. He has been in prison and has taken refuge in an empty temple by a river. The locals begin to believe he is a holy man. Interspersed is the story of Raju's past, his childhood, his time as a tourist guide. Then his affair with a married woman and its consequences. Raju is a rogue who is often self serving, but
...more
Saimah
'The Guide' is the story of transformation of the protagonist, Raju from a simple tour guide to a great spiritual guide. Starting as a tourist guide in the small village of Malgudi, Raju more often known as Railway Raju, leads a very simple life with his widowed mother. However the entrance of Rosie and her husband, Marco, brings about a turmoil in all of their lives. Rosie aspires to be a famous dancer while Marco is focussed towards his career and totally apathetic towards Rosie and her dancin ...more
Adee
Hmm. What do i say about a book that i just finished last night and which has been growing on me since then...too early to say anything? yeah, maybe. but if i delay, i won't be able to pen down this mini-review of sorts.
R.K. Narayan writes in the simplest of English, a bildungsroman of sorts of a man named Raju. Actually, weaves would be a better word instead of writes, because the book is actually a tapestary of Raju's life and that of other major and minor characters, Velan, Rosie, Marco (who
...more
umberto
This rural-oriented novel set in his fictional town of Malgudi in India would, I think, would nearly equally delight his readers who have read his "Swami and Friends" (1935), "The Bachelor of Arts" (1937) or "The English Teacher" (1945) and they may keep wondering why the protagonist, Raju, has chosen such a way of life after his release from prison. As the story goes on, we can find it enjoyable and agree with its recommendation as "the greatest of his comedies of self-deception" (back cover) O ...more
Sidharth Vardhan
R.K. Narayan is one of India’s most celebrated author - probably most beloved in India, of all Indians writers writing in English. More than Salman Rushdie or Arundhati Roy. And rightly so. I don't think any other writer has written this much variety - novels, children books, short stories and scriptural retellings.

The book is written in typical Narayan style – simple, lightly humored and well paced. The book draws you a picture of India in its true color – in vivid details. For a person not fam
...more
Mizah
I didn't really put much thought into what kind of story this would be, but now that I have completed it, let me just say it went beyond my expectations. R. K. Narayan has a flair for storytelling.

I've been reading a lot of books which move back and forth in time, and 'The Guide' is one which does so brilliantly. The narration of the past is told in relevance to what is happening in the present, and written in a consistent manner too, making it easy for readers to follow.

I think the best thing a
...more
MADitya
"It's easy to read, but difficult to understand" says Michael Gorra in his foreword. And i agree with him a hundred percent. There are so many interpretations possible from this one. Some may like Raju, some may not. Some may like Rosie, some may not. Some may like Marco, some may not. My review:
It's a self-deprecatory repentant narrative by Raju as told to Velan after he's released from prison (earlier convicted for forgery). Am trying to forget the first person narrative by Raju and look at th
...more
Zoya Iqbal
A timeless classic!!!
Anbu
Though I haven’t seen the movie version of it, I did see some scenes from it. So when the book started the image of Dev Anand was in mind when I try to picture Raju. But eventually Dev Anand faded and a typical dhoti clad Tamil guy replaced him. I guess that is the power of Narayan’s writing. He made us picture what he wants to even if we have some predetermined images about it.

Narayan keeps all the leading characters with the shades of grey, except for the innocent village folks and Gaffur. Raj
...more
Parikhit
R. K. Narayan’s stories have done it again and this time it is ‘The Guide’. Magnificent! Narayan is perfectionism achieved in writing. With the presentation simple, a narration soul-stirring and a ringing humour a reader finds herself transported to the town of Malgudi witnessing the daily affairs, fictitious yet real.

Raju humbly began as a dishonest tourist guide, morphed into a guide to success for his ladylove and settled for a spiritual guide to a group of credulous villagers. His transition
...more
Sweety
Jan 19, 2014 Sweety rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All
I prefer the book to the movie. Always.
The only two exceptions are Masoom (based on Man, Woman, Child) and Guide (Guide).

Raju Guide's life is a roller-coaster of lost dreams, broken promises, shunted relations.
His idyllic life twists with the entry of Rosie, the young, spurned wife of the much older archeologist Marco. Rosie grasps onto Raju's shoulder as she rejects her marriage for her only true love...Dance.
Alas, her passion for dance and Raju's obsession for her lead them into a downward s
...more
Vijay
I have read 'Malgudi days' by R.K. Narayan before and I always liked his style of writing and his unique quality of putting most complex of emotions in simplest and concise manner .
Like his other works, Guide also jumps around Indian culture, beliefs, socioeconomic structure, and human nature, which is not particular to any country or group of people. I don't know how can he portray such arcane concepts of very varied and convoluted topic that Indian culture is, in such simple and appealing fa
...more
April Singh
well congrats for starting and finishing the first book this year (2015). and i am feeling happy today. very happy. the narrative was a little poor and confusing at times. it is very likely possible that i my not have understood it properly but i felt it poor. even though i enjoyed reading it (only after the first half of the book) it is definitely overrated.
Anushri
'The guide' is one of the finest books I have ever read. The book is all about a guide-turned-saint named Raju. It's tough to relate to Raju's story or even his tangled emotions as he is quite a complex character. But R.K Narayan manages to enrapture the reader throughout the book with his simple yet captivating narration. And if you ask me, I'd say this is one book which you shouldn't give a miss!
Anuja
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Neeraj
One of the very good novels by an Indian author. Must read.
Sai Padma
Wonderfully interwoven human drama
Hitarth
Yep, simplicity is hard to achieve.
:)
Chetan Harjani
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ramkishan Nekkanti
You cannot go wrong with R. K. Narayan. His books transgress reader ages. Be it a 10 year old child or a 50 year old scholar, both would enjoy his simple, run-of-the-mill writing style while understanding the content and the characters in their own ways.
A realistic comedy set - as always - in the town of Malgudi, The Guide once again proves that the serene, small world background of India's villages and the truly unique characters that can be brought to existence in such settings will remain unm
...more
Nandasiri Wanninayaka
I read “The Guide” by R. K. Narayan last year. It was as interesting as any other books by R. K. Narayan. The usual setting, the town of Malgudi is where the novel is based on. The protagonist, Raju is originally a tour guide and later becomes a manager of a dancer and then a hermit. The transformation of the character is excellently illustrated by the veteran novelist Narayan.

This is the only novel of Narayan that includes sex from the novels I have read by him. Railway Raju (his nickname) fall
...more
Rushati Mukherjee
Kinnnda weird. The writing... it's easy to tell that he's writing in language that was not his own, which automatically seems foreign to me because as a writer, why would you choose to write in a language that you have not made your own? I don't mean in terms of grammar or expression, all that is correct and lucid enough- there is a sense of discomfort in the writing, like he's... grappling with the language, still trying to tame it, as though he hasn't already tamed it and it isn't his faithful ...more
Pankaj Tiwari
It was a nice read, one story, two times running parallel, as for an Indian being it felt a bit predictable, the book shows that how people become godmen because of other's ignorance, in fact others want the same, that somehow is because people don't want to take charge of themselves, they need someone to depend on, someone should be a reason for their happiness, someone should be to the blame when things go wrong, this dependence leads to godmen appearing all over the country, but instead of se ...more
Nayantara
The thing about R.K Narayan is that I don't think there is any Indian author out there who captures India:
1. So well
2. With such simplicity
3. With such profoundness.

The Guide starts off as a seemingly simple, straightforward story. But by the end you realise how truly profound the book is. This book is a must read for those who like to read about India and for Indians because I feel we really don't appreciate people like R.K Narayan enough!
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R. K. Narayan is among the best known and most widely read Indian novelists writing 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 there
...more
More about R.K. Narayan...
Malgudi Days Swami and Friends The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic The English Teacher The Man-Eater of Malgudi

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