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The Painter of Signs

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3.70  ·  Rating details ·  2,126 ratings  ·  162 reviews
For Raman the sign painter, life is a familiar and satisfying routine. A man of simple, rational ways, he lives with his pious aunt and prides himself on his creative work. But all that changes when he meets Daisy, a thrillingly independent young woman who wishes to bring birth control to the area. Hired to create signs for her clinics, Raman finds himself smitten by a lov ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published August 29th 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published 1977)
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  2,126 ratings  ·  162 reviews


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Paul Bryant
Oct 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who may be feeling a bit fed up
Shelves: novels, india
This one will cheer you up. It's not especially funny, but it's like going where the weather suits your clothes and meeting people that you like when you're there. I read three by R K Narayan and I had to stop, they were all so nice, all really charming and all as light as a summer breeze with hummingbirds stuck in it. I bet every one of R K Narayan's many books are just as good.

You can't spend all your time reading good nice pretty novels though. You have to read some horrible ones too.
Mahima
Mar 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
R.K. Narayan is a good writer, I admit. I quite liked his Swami and Friends. But here's the thing. What he writes, though in beautiful words, is very simplistic. In the case of Swami and Friends that was fine because simplistic writing worked with its subject matter. But this book - its idea and concept was superb, so much so that it could've been a brilliant book had the idea been executed properly - but, really, this book required much more depth. As simplistic as it was, the idea behind it co ...more
Gorab Jain
Mar 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Gorab by: Arpit Jain
Shelves: z2016, indian, buddy-reads
Raman, a signboard painter, is living a simple life staying with his pious Aunt. He wishes to be chastise and staying a brahmachari all his life... and here comes Daisy!
Daisy, an ardent social worker for birth control and family planning, gets some signboards done by Raman
...and Raman goes head over heels for her. Now while Daisy leaves no stones upturned to convince and educate people on family planning, ironically Raman keeps daydreaming of his own "family planning" with Daisy!
Branded with R
...more
Sumit Singla
Apr 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, 2015
Set in RK Narayan's much-acclaimed fictional town of Malgudi, The Painter of Signs is a relatively short book with relatively few characters. Raman, the main protagonist is a relatively erudite signboard painter, who takes a lot of pride in his work. He leads a quiet, reasonably humdrum existence till he meets the mysterious Daisy - a campaigner committed to reducing the population growth rate through sheer force of will.

In terms of plot, there isn't much to the story but the interplay of human
...more
Vikas Singh
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-book
The novel deals with the population situation of the country. On a different level, the novel is about a woman's own aspirations and ideals and her conflict with the stereotyped woman and her role in the society. The novel actually extends into a short story RK later wrote where we come to know that to her horror Daisy had got pregnant, which was perhaps the trigger for her to run away from the marriage. Good read.
Sonali Dabade
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-reads
R.K. Narayan is so well-loved in the Indian literary scene that once upon a time, I used to be really excited to read his books. When I read 'Malgudi Days', I was actually really bowled over and thought, “Okay, wow, what writing! So simple and beautiful!” I was even further excited to read 'The Painter of Signs', a book I bought a couple of years ago and got to reading only now.

But now that I’ve read 'The Painter of Signs', I really, really don’t like it.

My apprehension began slightly, somewhere
...more
Eve Kay
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This short tale started out as an interesting journey to a world I know just a tiny bit about and wanted to learn more. The main character was initially uninteresting but turned out to be highly relatable to me! I see I read this at a time where I need some kind of guidance and thus felt that what Raman went through, felt, thought and how he reacted were all very understandable. I know that if I had read this under other circumstances this book wouldn't have gotten such a high rating since I gue ...more
Jess
Aug 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
I thought this book was really lacking in substance. Maybe I'm not bright enough to find the substance and it was an easy enough read, but I got done with it and just thought, "Well, nothing happened in that story." The other thing I thought was that the main character was really a jerk. And not Steve Martin jerk, but really just a self-centered jerk.

There was hardly any character development, so I didn't feel like I understood any of the characters. The book was mildly funny at times, like man
...more
Prashant
This book is another delight by Narayan. It dwells on the strong emotions and the intricacies of the human mind.

I have been trying to pin point the reason I love Narayan's writings and just the simplicity and understanding of the mango people is enough to make him one the best Indian writers.
Ivy-Mabel Fling
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was (to my way of thinking) an enjoyable read without being extremely deep or iconoclastic. Whether it portrays India to some extent as it is (or certain parts of it), I do not know, but I shall be interested to read other Indian writers to see their slant on their country and society. If I had to describe the author's tone and style. I would say it is endearing!!
Rajat TWIT
A light read having the quintessential RK Narayan fiction, The painter of Signs is a story of Raman who treats himself as an artist and is a well read man of past thirty age. He is a rational person who wants to establish a society of logic and hence treats religious superstitions with disdain. He lives with her Aunt who has taken care of him since his Parents died and never realizes her importance in his life, till she leaves him in the penultimate stage of the story. Raman is a guy satisfied w ...more
Nithesh
Dec 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, owned
One expects Indian writers' books to always end on a positive and happy note. In fact , I expected RK Narayan to keep up to that cliche. But he surprises me with this book.

As I always say, RK is someone who brings out the struggle between modernity and traditions during his time. In this book he speaks about feminism and birth control . He creates two powerful feminine characters who shatter a man's life in two different ways. In a predominantly man's world, where Raman takes his aunt for grant
...more
Revathy Nair
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
My first time reading an R.K Narayan novel and I loved it. Raman seems so uptight but he ends up groveling at Daisy's feet. Some situations were so cringe-worthy and some outright hilarious (the scene at the police station)

Daisy was so straight laced and at times, I felt she was insane in the way she talked to people regarding birth control and vasectomy. And Raman's subtexts were hilarious too. But it also shows how India was at that time - stuck between REASON and SUPERSTITION where the latter
...more
Mradul  Dubey
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Disclaimer: This book bites the unsuspecting reader

This book is awesome. Not as a drama or tragedy or even as an outright comedy. This book is the one of the subtlest books I have ever read, in the way it evokes emotions. In the initial part of the book, I identified with the lead character and his rationale and later I was sucked into his emotional state and as the plot approached climax I was as dumbfounded, vexed and perplexed as the lead character himself and I finished the book with an imp
...more
sydney
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
a guy thinks he's a perfect modern intellectual until he meets a woman that makes him self-reflect on the reality of his own ideas only to realize he's kind of a dumbass, you love to see it
EnVy17
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Simple well narrated story with an unusual or unexpected ending.
Rhys
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favourite writers. I don't know what there is about Narayan but he's the author I feel most friendly towards. It's almost as if he is such a tangible presence in all his novels that it seems he is sitting in the same room and telling you the story directly. I do have to say that I think his novels became weaker as time went on, and there are some slapdash passages in this novel (as there were in Talkative Man, another late novel) but these are easy to forgive. This is a lovely and poig ...more
Fiza Pathan
Nov 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
R.K.Narayan surprised me with this novel. Set during the period when the Family Control propagation came into focus, this novel can shock a person as well as realize the depth of the Indian soul. Narayan in this novel tries to go with the times & is very bold in his writing. Infact, the novel involves many themes of the 1970's Indian scenario like birth control, Bollywood, dare devil women etc. Narayan also breaks his initial way of presenting his characters & uses a new technique which is refre ...more
Rishi Prakash
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished one more book of the great author and once again i felt like staying at Malgudi and enjoying the simple charms of life. This book is an easy read just like his previous books and with his smooth, humourous style, it moves on rapidly, drawing you deeper into another corner of his fictional world of Malgudi.

The main protagonist here is Raman who is a painter and that is how the book got the title. He makes a living out of painting signboards of all kinds. He is not a normal sign board p
...more
Akul Singh
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Painter of Signs is a novel written by R.K.Narayan and yet again it is based in the city of Malgudi.For all of those people that don't know about Malgudi, it is a fictional city or town that has been created by R.K.Narayan himself.

The Painter of Signs is a story based on a Signboard maker called Raman who meets a beautiful woman of his age named Daisy. Daisy is a career wise feminist working in the field of family planning and travels around Malgudi and other neighbouring townships preaching
...more
Rithun Regi
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A peek into a typical Indian city with its gossip filled, religion filled, poverty stricken life. It is refreshing to read the original portrayal of a normal painter of the signs. His fears, insecurities, dreams are all brought to life by the author. We can see a little bit of ourselves in the painter as he tries to face life with a false sense of bravado. His attraction towards the female protagonist is filled with tension, curiosity and suspense. The relationship is slowly brought to life by t ...more
Kris McCracken
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This one is a lovely little book that follows the rather unusual courtship of a proud sign painter in an ordinary Indian town and Daisy, a career-oriented feminist fanatical in her mission to make family planning available to all of India.

Narayan has a keen sense of capturing the subtitles of human relationships and the rhythms and sounds of the city, the taste and smells of food, the colour and movement of the crowds. It’s clear that the city is growing and changing as the locals try to find s
...more
Carly Johnson
May 16, 2011 rated it liked it
This book was very well written and was a breeze to read. I really appreciated how well the author wrote in stream of consciousness without it being too distracting and messy. However, the book was really ruined for me when the main character, Raman, completely changed from the modest character the author had depicted to a rapist who would stop at nothing to bed his love interest, Daisy. The novel was definitely worth my time because the writing style was so unique--but the storyline was disappo ...more
Pilar
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: narrative
A delightful, very pleasant reading. A good and dynamic prose. Well set. Well-built characters (Raman, Daisy, Raman's aunt...). Fine and subtle sense of humor.
I like how the author, Narayan, tries to empathize, tries to understand the not easy situation of Indian women in the twentieth century in India, both through his elderly and traditional aunt, and through Daisy, a young woman who fights hard for being independent.
Dinakar
Apr 10, 2013 rated it liked it
I read on one of those a day long train journeys and finished it before I reached my destination. I did not notice time all along my travel.
A classic Chekhovian style Novel is what all I can say. As always Mr. Narayan will take you to his very own Malgudi and gives you an experience of the wonderful old Indian Town.
A must read if you like novels with Chekhovian style of ending...
Ashley Bell
Jan 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
Dear Narayan,
You can call it 'insistent passion' all you like on the blurb, attempted rape is attempted rape, no matter what delusions of romance the attacker has.
Yours, Society.
Sanjay Remanan
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
She Said he is an artist,

No, I am a painter of Signs !

Narayan make you laugh and cry at the same time. Simply the Best! May be you can find similar characters in real life.
Glass River
Aug 08, 2020 marked it as fic-guided
The Painter of Signs is a novel about writing – or, to use the critical term that was trendy in the 1970s, ‘semiotics’. It was published forty years into Narayan’s career as one of India’s great ‘English’ novelists, by which time he had whittled his use of the language down to bone-like simplicity.
The hero Raman paints signs for shops, offices and small businesses in the southern town of Malgudi – Narayan’s favourite setting. It’s fictional, in South India, and the nearest large city is Madras.
...more
Tnahsin Garg
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Most social talk was such meaningless jabber, which somehow comforted mankind with a sense of communication. He drank his coffee in silence.”


RK Narayan is one of those rare gems that I allow myself to read no more than one of his novels each year. Say, if I were to read all his books quickly in a year, what will be there to look forward to in life? So, by reading a Narayan book a year, at least I’ll have a comfortable and pleasant decade ahead of me. Once I'm done with him, hopefully, I’ll
...more
Gaurav Nanda
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this book with very few characters. While the style of writing is trademark R.K. Narayan set in a typical small town with everyday routine activities weaved into the story and painting the world of Raman before the reader in great detail. The three main characters are developed slowly like a slow cooked dish with sweets and spices in form of the history and background of Raman, Daisy, and Raman's aunt added as the preparation progresses. One of the best parts of the book ...more
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1,552 followers
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
...more

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