Most helpful positive review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2002
As a fan of Narayan's work, I was fascinated to see how he would tackle the grand subject of the Ramayana, a work that runs through and certainly influences all of Narayan's stories. The result is one of his most delightful and beautifully written novels. I think it is important to approach this book not as "THE" Ramayana, but one storyteller's unique vision of the timeless epic--even as a variation on one of his Malgudi novels (the characters certainly bare a distinct resemblance). Narayan's writing is extremely sensitive, refined, yet full of humor and charm. Throughout he adopts the tone of a storyteller, openly acknowledging that he is only "retelling" a story by a much greater storyteller, and leaving out the juciest parts at that. His little asides where he explains, "And here the poet described the scene so touchingly..." are at once reverent and amusing, as Narayan wisely omits anything too excessive or poetic that might derail his narrative. But the story itself is wonderful, a colorful, full-blooded telling of the Ramayana, sparse, fast-moving, but with all the hallmarks of Narayan's style. This book is a must for any fan of Narayan's fiction, Indian writing, or mythology. Narayan effectively conveys the epic's timelessness, with characters and situations that echo throughout literature and film, full of profound human emotions. And this is always one of Narayan's chief strengths, to create believable, complex human characters. In his treatment, even Rama and Sita emerge as sympathetic individuals, not the cardboard cut-outs all too common given their extraordinary powers. In short, this is a magical and engaging work that I know I will read again and again in the years to come. I invite you to do the same!