When asked in an interview which of his novels he favored, Narayan named A Tiger for Malgudi. The reason for his choice is readily understandable. The book offers an engaging animal story, even as it works out once again Narayan’s preoccupation with gaining a balance between the demands of the everyday world and the attractions of the spiritual realm. The novel is also a highly successful experiment in narrative voice. Although Narayan never followed the dictates of fiction slavishly, this book departed more radically from convention than any of his other works.
In the preface, Narayan explains that the idea for the novel came to him after reading about actual Indian holy men whose only companions are tigers, the animals roaming freely from place to place with their human companions. Narayan also notes in the preface how the sannyasi (a person in India who renounces the world in order to go on a spiritual quest) approaches the tiger:That, deep within, the core of personality is the same in spite of differing appearances and categories, and with the right approach you could expect the same response from a tiger as from any normal human being.
Such is Narayan’s approach to the tiger as well, which suggests that he pictures a world far more expansive than one made up only of human beings living out their mundane lives and believing they are the center of the universe.
In fact, humans generally do not fare very...
(The entire section is 577 words.)