Indian author Raja Rao must-read novels

Inspired by the Indian culture, his narrations are mesmerising

Writer Raja Rao coming from the India of the yore was an author with deep analysis of the human and society. His works stem from a mix of various life events Rao experienced in his life, right from narrations deeply rooted in metaphysics to the absence of his mother and his involvement in the nationalist movement that had a reflection in his work. For someone having grown up reading Puranas, Rao had an interest in the revival of ancient Indian civilization.

In fact, Rao was also active in the Quit India Movement as a result many of his work revolves around the impact of Gandhi’s teaching on nonviolent resistance against the British. Rao’s wide-ranging body of work, spanning a number of genres, is seen as a varied and significant contribution to Indian English literature, as well as World literature as a whole. Here is a list of a few of his books that one must read.

Kanthapura
The story revolves around a village Kanthapura, in South India, and how Gandhi’s struggle for independence from the British comes here. A village divided on a caste system with the upper caste living in the better part of the village while the lower caste being given the other side, however, the entire village comes together for a festive celebration. The story picks up when a young Moorthy is back from the city with new ideas that cut across the ancient barriers of caste and aims at uniting the villagers in non-violent action. However, his deeds are met with violence by landlords and police. The story picks up from here as a dramatic tale unfolds almost in mythical style narrated by an old woman.

The Serpent and the Rope
This book is an introduction for the West into the flavor and wholeness of the traditional Indian way of life. This is a semi-autobiographical novel that describes the meeting of East and West by narrating the story of Rama, an Indian, and Madeleine, a French girl. The two meet at a French university shortly after World War II, fall in love, and get married. It is their marriage that is the central theme of the book, and Rao through his writing has more deeply than ever described the meaning of love.

The Cat and Shakespeare
This is the tale of two friends, Govindan Nair an astute, down-to-earth philosopher and clerk, who tackles the problems of routine living with extraordinary common sense and Ramakrishna Pai, the narrator of the story.

The other books are The Chessmaster and His Moves, 5 Indian Masters, and The Meaning of Ganga among others.

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