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The Guide

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  7,711 ratings  ·  454 reviews
R.K. Narayan (1906-2001) is unusual among Indian authors writing in English in that he has stayed contentedly in his home country, venturing abroad only rarely. He rarely addresses political issues or tries to explore the cutting edge of fiction. He is a traditional teller of tales, a creator of realist fiction which is often gentle, humorous, and warm rather than hard-hit ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 2nd 2006 by Penguin Classics (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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3.91  · 
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Petra Eggs
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
Dec 03, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Stephen Durrant
Mar 07, 2009 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
Nov 22, 2014 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
Alok Mishra
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From life on the earth to the Karmic theories of purgatory; from real life details to the world of Gods; from sin to atonement... this book, The Guide, by R K Narayan will take you to new dimensions of readership. Perhaps one of the greatest novels Indian authors writing in English have produced, this book is a classic in the sense it's always there. Today also, you can find the novel's relevance in the society.
Plot, theme, plot movement, language... everything about the novel is perfect and yo
Apr 30, 2011 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 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Laura

Description: Raju's first stop after his release from prison is the barber's shop. Then he decides to take refuge in an abandoned temple. Raju used to be India's most corrupt tourist guide - but now a peasant mistakes him for a holy man. Gradually, he begins to play the part.
 It is written on the brow of some
That they shall never be left in peace
Raju seems to be somewhat Zelig in nature, becoming anything at a pitch of a hat.

His Holy Man routine becomes e
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

'Guide' is one of the most ambitious books of Narayan. One reason for this could be that this book was adapted into a successful film. So very often one cannot separate the two. I saw the film first and read the book later.

Let us talk about the book first. It is a story of Raju– a charming Guide with loose morals– who wants to attain success at any cost. It is by his ingenious and charming sense of humor, his clever persuasion, his rhetoric in short, that he achieves whatever he wants. He meets
Vikalp Trivedi
"The Guide" by R.K. Narayan is an excellent example that how beautiful and intriguing simplicity can be . Mr. Narayan wrote the novel with sheer simplicity of language and expression .

Even with simplicity - which is the power of the novel - the story is deep and touches the inner recesses of human nature . The story is about how a being makes himself and destroys himself , but in midst of this creation and destruction the changes which takes place in a person are more important . I think throug
Sep 01, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My first book of R.K.Narayan.Though the book ended ambiguously, I loved the transformation of Raju throughout.

I wanted to read it before watching the movie. I have read that R.K.Narayan disliked the movie adaptation, which made me more curious to read this book.
A decent book. A bit different from the movie, especially the individual characteristics but I liked it nonetheless. An easy to read and easy to forget kind of a book. I think the movie was a shade better. 3.5 stars.
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
'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
Selva Subramanian
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
I thought I would just say "guys, read and make your own judgement"...but thought better of it:) Typical RKN's writing: decent, simplistic, with subtle humor. This is kind of the most respected of his novels. On that score, it left me a little disappointed. I actually didn't get the point of the novel. Probably the point he was making is there is no point :) Life has to be lived and you can't do nothing about most things. It is not as bad as you think or it is not as good as you believe. I could ...more
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Yigal Zur
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
great take in a short novel by a master. i met r.k. narayan few years prior to his death. but he wanted to talk about life not books. i still cherish the meeting and the book
Uttara Srinivasan
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Guide is the story of Raju and his journey through life – mostly his days in the fictional town of Malgudi – immortalized by R. K. Narayan in so many ways. Raju is a young child who dislikes school, holds most people around in slight disdain and is yet inventive enough to take whatever opportunity life offers him (and he does snatch at most of these) and make the best out of it – hook or by crook. The boy and eventually the man that Raju becomes is unabashedly self-absorbed, almost shameless ...more
Pankaj Suneja
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had such nice time reading this novel. I have entered the life of characters and I could experience them in their moments. I believe Raju was quite reflective in his narration of his momentary experiences about his life. Of course, R.K. Narayan creates characters which have depth to look within and make sense of their experiences and circumstances.
I another book by same author, BA Pass, there is part where character becomes sage by default. In this novel, author again experiments with the orig
Aug 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Muddle head
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
"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
Shibam K. Eccentric
Nov 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was only when I felt the urgency to seat for my exam I began to read this novel without having any inherent interest and prior acquaintance with RK Narayan's style or narrative technique . As I proceeded, I found Raju more of a typical rural Indian boy ,playing and cavorting around with gaily spirit , and less of a man who knows only to beguile everyone with acute eloquence and amicable manner. His emerging from the shopkeeper to tourist guide ,his seduction of the wife of Macrow ,then his su ...more
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.
Zoya Iqbal
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
A timeless classic!!!
Rohit Sharma
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately I had't read none of R K Narayan books for some unknown reason (call it availability as they are still not available in stores - not talking about online stores). Which better book to start but with "The Guide", on which a timeless cult classic movie was made which I believe was a super success. I have already seen it multiple times and the visuals are pretty much intact in my brain with those lavish locations where Rosie (Waheeda Rehman) dances to the tunes of the official "Guide" ...more
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Few months back I came across a post by penguin where Rosie was compared to some of the great heroines of Indian literature. This intrigued me enough to read this book. Today when I have finished it I am not disappointed.
But don't be misguided by comment(pun intended), she is not the protagonist. The story is about Raju and his journey through the ups and downs of life. Matter of the fact is that you only get glimpse of Rosie throughout the novel. Yet those glimpse we're enough to mesmerize me.
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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
“It seems to me that we generally do not have a correct measure of our own wisdom.” 11 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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