Waiting for the Mahatma, a novel written by Narayan and published in 1958, is a very popular work that deals with contemporary issues, particularly the campaign against the British led by Gandhi and the impact it had on the people of the time. The novel is a very insightful portrayal of the social upheaval caused by Gandhi's attitudes on caste.
Narayan's The Man-Eater of Malgudi was published in 1962. Arguably one of his finest novels, it deals with the gradual transformation of society as it encounters the forces of change. Written in a manner that is partly allegorical and partly realistic, the novel exemplifies Narayan's attitude toward culture and religion. At the very heart of Narayan's work is a mythical structure, and that comes across very forcibly in this novel.
A Passage to India has earned the reputation of a minor classic. Written by E. M. Forster and published in 1924, it remains a very important attempt, from the perspective of an outsider, to deal with the realities of India. A useful novel to be compared with Narayan's work.
Midnight's Children, published by Salman Rushdie in 1981, is a modern epic about India. Its style, approach, and sweep are very different from anything attempted by Narayan. Rushdie is experimental, discontinuous in his narrative mode, and politically engaged. He presents one version of India and Narayan another.
The Idea of India, published by Sunil Khilnani in 1997, is an excellent introduction to sociocultu-ral conditions and the political situation in India. The focus of the book is postcolonial India—the last fifty years—and the author provides a first-rate introduction to a very complex and confusing topic.