Swami and Friends

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Swami and Friends
Swami and Friends (Malgudi Schooldays) cover.jpg
Cover of Malgudi School days 2009 Puffin Classics edition
AuthorR. K. Narayan
Cover artistR. K. Laxman
Published1935 Hamilton
Media typePrint
Followed byThe Bachelor of Arts 

Swami and Friends is the first of a trilogy of novels written by R. K. Narayan (1906–2001), English language novelist from India. The novel, the first book Narayan wrote, is set in British India in a fictional town called Malgudi. The second and third books in the trilogy are The Bachelor of Arts and The English Teacher.

Malgudi Schooldays is a slightly abridged version of Swami and Friends, and includes two additional stories featuring Swami from Malgudi Days and Under the Banyan Tree.[1]


Swami and Friends is the first novel written by R. K. Narayan.[2] It was published through the intervention of a friend and neighbour ("Kittu" Purna) who was studying at Oxford. Through him, Graham Greene came into contact with Narayan's work, became especially interested in it and took it upon himself to place the book with a reputable English publisher (Hamish Hamilton).[3] Graham Greene was responsible for the title Swami and Friends, changing it from Narayan's Swami, the Tate, suggesting that it would have the advantage of having some resemblance to Rudyard Kipling's Stalky & Co..[4]

Greene arranged the details of the contract and remained closely involved until the novel was published. Narayan's indebtedness to Greene is inscribed on the front endpaper of a copy of Swami and Friends Narayan presented to Greene: "But for you, Swami should be in the bottom of Thames now".[4]

Albert Mission School friends[edit]

  • W.S. Swaminathan: A ten-year-old boy studying at Albert Mission School, Malgudi. He lives in Vinayaka Mudali Street. He is later transferred to Board High School.
  • Mani: Swami's classmate at Albert Mission School, lives in Abu Lane, he is known as 'Mighty good-for-nothing'. He carries around a club sometimes, and threatens to beat his enemies to a pulp.
  • M. Rajam: Swami's classmate at Albert Mission School, lives in Lawley Extension. His father is the Deputy Police Superintendent of Malgudi. He previously studied at an English Boys' School, Madras. He is also the Captain of Malgudi Cricket Club (Victory Union Eleven).
  • Somu : Monitor of 1st Form A Section, lives in Kabeer Street. He fails in 1st Form and is "automatically excluded from the group".
  • Sankar: Swami's classmate in 1st Form A Section. His father gets transferred at the end of the term. He is the most brilliant boy of the class.
  • Samuel ("The Pea"): Swami's classmate in 1st Form A Section. He is known as "The Pea" because of his height.

Swami's house[edit]

  • W. T. Srinivasan: Swami's father, a lawyer
  • Lakshmi: Swami's mother, homemaker
  • Swami's grandmother
  • Swami's late grandfather (sub-magistrate)
  • Subbu: Swami's little brother

Cricketers mentioned[edit]

Cultural depictions[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

On November 5, 2019, the BBC News listed Swami and Friends on its list of the 100 most influential novels.[7]


  1. ^ Username * (2009-11-15). "Malgudi Schooldays". Penguin Books India. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  2. ^ "R. K. Narayan (Indian author) - Encyclopædia Britannica". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  3. ^ Pier Paolo Piciucco, A companion to Indian fiction in English 2004, Atlantic Publishers & Dist
  4. ^ a b Pier Paolo Piciucco, A Companion to Indian Fiction in English (2004) Atlantic Publishers & Dist
  5. ^ "'You acted exactly as I imagined Swami to be'". Rediff.com. 16 May 2001. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  6. ^ "The return of Malgudi Days". Rediff.com. July 21, 2006. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  7. ^ "100 'most inspiring' novels revealed by BBC Arts". BBC News. 2019-11-05. Retrieved 2019-11-10. The reveal kickstarts the BBC's year-long celebration of literature.

External links[edit]