by Raja Rao
Part of the Oxford India Paperbacks series
Kanthapura has been described as one of the most satisfying of all modern Indian novels.
Recognized as a major landmark of Indian fiction, it is the story of how the Gandhian struggle for independence comes to one small village in south India.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 196 pages
- Publisher: OUP India
- Publication Date: 12/07/1990
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780195624373
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Review by wandering_star
This short but impactful novel tells of life in an Indian village in the last years of the Raj, and the way that Gandhi's thought arrives in the village (through a young man called Moorthy, who sees the Mahatma speaking and is inspired to give up his 'foreign' ways and bring the message to his village) and gradually spreads. It's not universally popular - some of the villagers don't see that 'politics' affects them - and many of the powerful respond with financial pressure ("Well, well, he said to himself, every squirrel has his day, and now for every Congress member the interest will go up to 10 and 20 per cent") and even violence. And yet, the message continues to inspire the villagers. One of the many interesting things in the book is how the villagers' response is linked to religion - some of them treat Gandhi as a god, for example, and after acts of Satyagraha (non-violent resistance) the villagers feel the same euphoria as they do after taking part in temple ceremonies at religious festivals.It will sound horribly shallow to say that this book looked as if it was going to be hard going! - apart from the subject, my copy has tiny print crammed closely together on the page. But it was anything but - it has a very story-telling style (the narrator is an old woman of the village) which rushes on, bringing in all sorts of detail of character and surroundings, making it very vivid.