Set in R. K. Narayan’s famous fictional town of Malgudi, where very little of the larger external world seems to intrude, The Printer of Malgudi is a comic novel of manners, in which the protagonist is not the title character but Srinivas, the editor of The Banner. Srinivas has tried many jobs (in agriculture, banking, teaching, and law) and has rejected them all. He stays in his room, which is part of a joint-family home, and worries about drifting with time. His elder brother, a lawyer, looks after the household (including Srinivas’ wife and son) while Srinivas idles away his time reading Hindu scriptures. Then he suddenly decides to go to Malgudi and start a weekly journal which, he hopes, will be a source of truth and vision. His writing, however, is pretentious and full of unintentionally comic bombast.
He lives in a small house rented from an old man who lives like a sanyasi or holy ascetic. Srinivas’ frail wife and young son arrive in this dingy, uncomfortable setting, and the protagonist finds himself burdened by domestic problems to compound his own financial and spiritual ones.
Srinivas’ restless ruminations about time, existence, and fate increase his own anxieties but without diminishing his essential humanity. He befriends Ravi, a bank clerk who is ridiculously infatuated with a woman who does not know him. Ravi has artistic talent that is not fully realized so long as his love for the woman goes...
(The entire section is 526 words.)