The Financial Expert
by R.K. Narayan
"From time immemorial people seemed to have been calling him "Margayya.""
This is a witty and luminous novel set in the backward town of Malgudi in southern India. It is a world created by R. K. Narayan and like Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County it is memorable and filled with characters that come alive on the page. The Financial Expert of the title is a man named Margayya who sits in a public park dispensing advice on economic matters to people who revere him. Throughout the novel the reader is introduced to several characters that may seem to play only a minor role, but in fact, are highly developed—almost without the reader being aware of it. Certainly, the main character, Margayya, is highly developed and the reader is given many insights into his motivations and thoughts. The reader is treated to his travails with the residents of Malgudi and his difficulties within his own family. Other characters in the novel are not so explicitly developed, yet their force cannot be underestimated, nor can their implicit development be ignored. Narayan's narrative style is straightforward, and his time scheme is chronological. In the telling of the story the reader learns a great deal about the realities of modern life in India. Like the novels of Jane Austen the great events of history echo in the background, but never intrude on the story. I found this story-telling ability of R. K. Narayan to be grand and it is what enthralled this reader.
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