Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Kanthapura” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.22 of 5 stars 3.22  ·  rating details  ·  425 ratings  ·  33 reviews
This is the story of how Mahatma Gandhi's struggle for independence from the British came to a typical village, Kanthapura, in South India. This edition includes extensive notes on Indian myths, religion, social customs, and the Independence movement which fill out the background for the American reader's more complete understanding and enjoyment.
Paperback, 244 pages
Published October 1st 1967 by New Directions Publishing Corporation (first published 1938)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Kanthapura, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Kanthapura

Things Fall Apart by Chinua AchebeThe God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyMidnight's Children by Salman RushdieThis Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta ToerThe Quiet American by Graham Greene
the Best Postcolonial Literature
36th out of 146 books — 48 voters
Train to Pakistan by Khushwant SinghMidnight's Children by Salman RushdieThe God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyA Suitable Boy by Vikram SethCoolie by Mulk Raj Anand
HT's Greatest Indian Novels
15th out of 54 books — 12 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 834)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Mahatma Gandhi ki jai!

Mala warned me that I’d be scratching my head. And it was lovely! But this ND editions provided sixty pages of helpful notes which reduced somewhat that head scratching. But not so much that there was no pleasure left!

The story is the common story of a rural village undergoing political change. But I’m not immediately certain that this kind of story is so common; in our current literary climate which so frequently features alienated individuals as protagonists. Here the com
Belinda G
This is a shining example of the kind of books that professors set for mandatory reading that make you want to scratch your own eyeballs out with a rolling pin.
I don't even know where to begin to explain exactly why I hate this book so much.

It may go something like the terrible grammar and the stupid characters and the over describing and the author's pomposity and the and the and the and the AND THE AND THE AND THE AND THE!!!

How many times can one man use the words "AND" in one paragraph? Acc
Rao uses English to try to communicate an Indiana vernacular mode of storytelling, with very intriguing (if long-winded) results. The story itself revolve around the rise of Ghandi, and ends on a rather ubiquitous note.
Loved reading Kanthapura.This novel is a complete mixture of Religion,Mythology and History. What I personally liked the most that in this novel, the grand harikathas finely blend politics with religious and mythology. The fights between mahatma and british draws the picture of the fight between Rama and Ravana, between the forces of good and evil like Krishna against the Kalia or Kansa, Prahlad against his own father, Harishchandra against the Asuras, Besides, the mahatma is Mohan (Krishna) sla ...more
Paul Alex Prince, III
Often impenetrable to modern Non-Indian readers, Rao's examination of one small village's disruption and ultimate destruction during the rise of Indian nationalism is hard to wade through, but ultimately worth the effort. Told from the viewpoint of a surviving village elder woman as she shares the story with other women, the story requires either an intimate existing knowledge of Hindu culture and history or a willingness to do a great deal of googling as you encounter unfamiliar context. Wikipe ...more
Better than other books by Raja Rao that I have read.
Susan Oleksiw
Kanthapura is the story of a small South Indian village radicalized by a village youth. Moorthappa learns about Mahatma Gandhi, and persuades his fellow villagers to take up Gandhi's principles of nonviolent protest against the government. The story lays out the divisions of caste and wealth in the village of Kanthapura, the petty rivalries and grudges, and hold of ritual and tradition. Moorthappa's nemesis is Bhatta, the moneylender who sees in the Gandhi movement a threat to his power and infl ...more
Jamie VW
The frenetic pacing of the book, as well as the kind of snapshot view of a village during the build up to Indian independence is great - a style of writing befitting the energy of the country and a perspective that I had never read much about. However, it was really difficult for me to get into this book, perhaps because of the overflow of characters and the trickiness of keeping track who was who. Though I suppose in a book showing the attempt to build a movement, individuals are less important ...more
Melissa Julian-jones
This is a fascinating insight into postcolonial India, told in flashback narrative by the village wise woman. It is very thought-provoking and reflective, looking at the impact of national movements on a small microcosm of Indian society through a very personal and human lens.
the everyday episodes of the people of a small south Indian town when the country was under Brit rule... Sadly people here still have that stone age mentality towards women and the supposedly lower castes. Not much has changed in that respect given this book was published in 1938 and I could still point out some similarities. Plus as an atheist, the religion part made me really, really sad pity the masses...because most of that bullshit still prevails. It's shown how Gandhi influenced the people ...more
Sayantan Das
A great work by Raja Rao. He showcases the situation of India during our freedom struggle and how Kanthapura was so much inspired by Mahatma Gandhi.
Anurag Vaishnav
Recommended if you want to read about how Indian Nationalistic movement reached and spread in the villages of the nation.
Nicely portrayed. It sets up picture of an Indian village from the times just before the independence.
A nice read. It's a beautiful narrative of how the freedom movement seeped in to the remotest parts of the country.
Suhasini Srihari
'Kanthapura' depicts the story of India on the whole during the colonial period, that is, during the British Raj. However, this post-colonial text gives us, the readers and more so the Indian readers of the situation of the then India [which includes caste discrimination, gender discrimination, etc.]. This text can also be categorized under the title, 'the start of Indian writing in English'. It was a nice read at the surface level, but if you involve yourself into the deeper aspects of the stor ...more
Probably the most boring book I have ever read. Ever.
Adakah yang lebih jujur daripada perjuangan golongan bawahan, orang kampung yang sanggup berkorban harta dan jiwa?
This was just....not good. The amalgamation of myth and reality could have been done in a much more comprehensive and smooth manner. Here, its confusing and makes the work more convoluted than it should be.
Rao manages to portray the imperfect nature of the nationalist movement, and the fact that not everybody was in tune with what was happening; the almost-blind following of Gandhi's teachings, the confusion, and the triumph of dog-headed strength of the people of Kanthapura show the chinks in the dazzling fabric of India's freedom struggle. His writing did irk me. The breathless run-on sentences work when one's working towards a climax, but when an entire novel is written in such a fashion, it ge ...more
Avtar Singh
No comments
I enjoyed this novel more a decade after I read it the first time as an undergraduate in a postcolonial literature class. It is a beautiful articulation of the nonviolent movement inspired by Gandhi in a small town in India. Rangamma, the lead female character in the novel, is animated and feisty, willing to sacrifice herself for the movement. The landscape descriptions are captivating and the section where Moorthy (the town's "little Gandhi") meditates and fasts for days is really moving.
Srinivasa Ramanujam
Kanthapura is a story about a village located in the western ghats, set in the time of Indian independence struggle led by Mohandas Gandhi. Raja Rao, a contemporary of R.K.Narayan has chosen a unique style of writing (which he calls as Indianized English) to tell the story about the people of Kanthapura, about their life and struggle, their differences based on politics and caste, and how they tried to overcome their differences by uniting themselves in the name of Mahatma.
I always wanted to read the works of the great Indian trio. But it is very difficult to find their works(R.K.Narayan is an exception yaar).I should say i was lucky to find this book.
I have always wondered how Gandhi had become a household name among our ancestors and this book gives some insight in that direction. The story is narrated in the form of great Indian oral tradition which makes it interesting. Though not a great book by any standards, it is a decent one.
Milan Vohra
Oh well. Maybe it was a letdown for me as there is so much that has been said about this book already and it seemed to be a must read sometime in life. I guess the book exemplifies best that statement I read somewhere, all good writing should be a reflection of its time. This book does an excellent job of making the impact of Gandhi and the sacrifices it took on an individual level and in the microcosm of a small village, very tangible.
Göktuğ Demiralp
Well written book by Raja, probably his best. A novel that depicts a whole history of decolonisation in a short 190 page book. It may frustrate some readers as it does not follow traditional syntax, has long paragraphs and sentences. However Raja deliberately employs this form of writing to portray the struggle of a nation who tries to find an identity in a time of struggle and oppression. Will highly recommend it to any one.
Lyrical writing and insight into village life in India during Gandhi's time. You have to ease into it as it is told from the point of view of an Indian woman, with all the digressions and story-telling. I loved it but don't know how people would respond without an interest in India.
I originally read this for a class on anti-colonial fiction. It's poetically written, with the intimacy of being told a story by an aunt at night time, but conveying the horrors and sadness of India's fight for independence and the ugly reality of Swaraj.
Beautifully written- complex and layered portrayal of how Gandhi's beliefs affected villages and especially women. Written in a beautiful, lyrical style!
Srikanth Manda
A Good One.

Find more about what I felt about this book at my blog:
'by the way....
Tedious and too filled with nationalistic fervour to really be a light read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 27 28 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • That Long Silence
  • Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man
  • Untouchable
  • Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer
  • In Custody
  • All About H. Hatterr
  • The Naked Eye
  • Hindu Myths
  • Mr. Sampath--the Printer of Malgudi
  • Vanity Bagh
  • Imaginary Maps
  • The Arthashastra
  • The Stones Cry Out
  • Hayavadana
  • How German is It (Wie Deutsch ist es)
  • Pather Dabi: The Right of Way
  • Trespassing: A Novel
  • The Golden Gate
Raja Rao (Kannada: ರಾಜ ರಾವ) has long been recognised as "a major novelist of our age." His five earlier novels—Kanthapura (1932), The Serpent and the Rope (1960), The Cat and Shakespeare (1965), Comrade Kirillov (1976) and The Chessmaster and His Moves (1988)—and three collections of short stories—The Cow of the Barricades and Other Stories (1947), The Policeman and the Rose (1978) and On the Gang ...more
More about Raja Rao...
The Serpent and the Rope The Cat and Shakespeare: A Tale of Modern India The Chessmaster and His Moves On the Ganga Ghat Collected Stories

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Then the wind comes so swift and dashing that it takes the autumn leaves with it, and they rise into the juggling air, while the trees bleat and blubber. Then drops fall, big as the thumb … the earth itself seems to heave up and cheep in the monsoon rains. It churns and splashes, beats against the treetops, reckless and wilful, and suddenly floating forwards, it bucks back and spits forward and pours down upon the green, weak coffee leaves, thumping them down to the earth.” 0 likes
More quotes…