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

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,690 Ratings  ·  293 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 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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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
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 22, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: classics, 1001-core, india
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
Stephen Durrant
Mar 07, 2009 Stephen Durrant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Syl. A.k.a Topo di biblioteca
May 13, 2011 Syl. A.k.a Topo di biblioteca rated it really liked it  ·  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
Nov 27, 2014 rahul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 21, 2007 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 07, 2015 Rajan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very moving story of greed, illicit relationship, chasing you dreams, destiny taking you to unimaginable, power of faith, superstition, luck and finally divinity.

My first introduction to RK Narayan was through TV serials 'Swami' and 'Malgudi days'. I was a kid so i liked Swami very much which was about the antics of a young boy and his friends. The stories of Malgudi days were a bit mature and found them boring at that time. Today in hindsight i see that they have great psychological d
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
May 17, 2016 Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Guide is set up as a frame story, beginning with our protagonist, Raju, turning up at an abandoned temple after being released from prison. Basically, he's squatting, but a local person named Velan comes to ask Raju to help him solve a problem with his willful daughter. Raju keeps feeding Velan statements of profound nonsense, but when Velan's daughter comes around, word spreads about Raju's holy nature. When a drought hits, Raju offers one of his statements, which is interpreted around the ...more
Feb 26, 2015 Adee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 12, 2011 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 27, 2011 Saimah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'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
Mar 13, 2013 Mizah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Arpit Jain
Jan 11, 2016 Arpit Jain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bingo-done, malgudi
Initial rating.
Still confused.
Might change them after little thinking.
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Mar 27, 2016 ♥ Ibrahim ♥ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
The book feels like it was written by Joseph Conrad, who I am a big fan of. The style is also that of 19th century English, a bit old like King James Bible style of English, too formal in such a way that reflects the Indian Spirit. All that was compensated for by the author's wit and charming spirit and sense of humor; I mean, this is a lively book and it is fun for me to read and I can read it over and over again and find it amusing. The trouble is, English is my second language and I do care a ...more
Muddle head
May 09, 2011 Muddle head rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Railway Raju is famous for helping tourists above and beyond the call of duty - until Rosie arrives. Stars Nitin Ganatra.
Gorab Jain
Mar 28, 2016 Gorab Jain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian, 2016
Brilliant stuff. Very different from the usual R.K.Narayan's books. For it leaves much to the reader's imagination. Have been a big fan of Narayan for the simplicity of his narration and simple stories. But can't say the same things for him now... though I'm a slightly bigger fan now!
Was going with 3.5 till the penultimate chapter, going for 4 for the epic (anti-)conclusion!
Apr 11, 2014 umberto rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, india
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
Aug 25, 2013 Vijay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Zoya Iqbal
Mar 28, 2015 Zoya Iqbal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A timeless classic!!!
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
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
Jan 19, 2014 Sweety rated it liked it  ·  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
April Singh
May 20, 2015 April Singh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Prabhu
'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!
Gina Wade mcdonald
Most unusual book. I had to dig deep to stick with this one. its like a fable, where you know there might be a good lesson learned but the story is inconsequential to get there. definitely matters to discuss sure, but the road to that conversation was rocky.
Nov 30, 2012 Anuja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 01, 2016 Amul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
R K Narayan is a genius. This book is simple, genius,comic, tragic and thoroughly Indian. Must read.
Fatini Zulkifli
Feb 06, 2016 Fatini Zulkifli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eng-novel
No wonder why my professor listed this book as a compulsory reading material.
It is so interesting.
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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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“It seems to me that we generally do not have a correct measure of our own wisdom.” 3 likes
“One often hears of suicide pacts. It seems to me a wonderful solution, like going on a long holiday. We could sit and talk one night perhaps, and sip our glasses of milk, and maybe we should wake up in a trouble-free world. I’d propose it this very minute if I were sure you would keep the pact, but I fear that I may go ahead and you may change your mind at the last second.
‘And have the responsibility of disposing of your body?’ I said, which was the worst thing I could have said.”
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