The Room on the Roof

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The Room on the Roof
The Room on the Roof.JPG
1987 edition cover
AuthorRuskin Bond
Original titleThe Room on the Roof
PublisherCoward-McCann (original)[1]
Penguin Books (current)
Publication date
Media typePaperback
Pages160 pages (first edition)[1]
Preceded byN/A 
Followed byVagrants in the Valley 

The Room on the Roof is a novel written by Ruskin Bond. It was Bond's first literary venture. Bond wrote the novel when he was seventeen[2] and won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1957.[2][3]. The novel revolves around Rusty, an orphaned seventeen-year-old Anglo-Indian boy living in Dehradun. Due to his guardian, Mr. Harrison's strict ways, he runs away from his home to live with his Indian friends.


Rusty,an Anglo-Indian boy was born in Kausauli in Himachal Pradesh in 1934. This is a story about an orphaned boy, from the Anglo-Indian descent, living in a European colony in Dehradun with his guardian Mr. Harrison and his wife, who wants him to stay away from Indians and groom him as a pure Englishman. However, in this process Harrison’s stringent behaviour perturbs Rusty’s flourishing teenage years. On the evening of Holi when Rusty returns home dirtily smeared in colours, the guardian begins beating him brutally, and then Rusty unable to control his pent-up frustration pays him back by assaulting his guardian violently. He leaves his house and starts living with his friends

A group of young local Indian boys helps him with small needs and he becomes friends with all of them. While seeing many things about India such as customs, bazaars and her diversity, he feels good about being in India. To sustain on his own, from the group, Somi arranges Rusty for a job in Mr. Kapoor’s house to teach English lessons to their son, Kishen. In return, he gets free food and a room on the roof to live in. Mr. Kapoor is a big-time drunkard and around twenty years older than his beautiful wife, Meena. There Rusty falls in love with Kishen’s mother Mrs. Meena Kapoor. However, when Meena dies in a car accident Rusty becomes sad and alone and Kishen goes to Haridwar only to become a thief. Rusty decides to go to England but he decides to visit Kishen once before he leaves. On knowing the truth Rusty finds Kishen and convinces him to return to Dehra. Kishen agrees with Rusty and they happily take the boat to Dehra next morning.


  • Rusty: The main protagonist of the book, a 17 year old Anglo-Indian
  • John Harrison: Rusty's guardian
  • Mrs. Harrison: Mr. Harrison's spouse
  • Kishen: A boy living in Rusty's neighbourhood
  • Mrs. Meena Kapoor: Kishen's mother
  • Mr. Kapoor: Kishen's father
  • Somi: A Punjabi boy, Rusty's friend
  • Ranbir: A muscular boy and the best wrestler in the bazaar.
  • Suri: A bespectacled and bony boy and Somi's friend.
  • Prickly Heat: Suri's dog

Critical reception[edit]

Upon release, the book received positive reviews. Santha Rama Rau of The New York Times commented "Like an Indian bazaar itself, the book is filled with the smells, sights, sounds, confusion and subtle organization of ordinary Indian life". Herald Tribune said that the book "has a special magic of its own". San Francisco Chronicle said that the book has "considerable charm and spontaneity".

The Guardian called the book "very engaging". The Scotsman commented "Moving in its simplicity and underlying tenderness...a novel of marked originality". The New Statesman said that "Mr Bond is a writer of great gifts".[4] The Hindu said that "This story keeps you hooked with the many unexpected incidents... It’s a book worth reading! It will be enjoyed by readers greatly".


  1. ^ a b The Room on the Roof - Google Books. Google. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  2. ^ a b "The Room on the Roof -". Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  3. ^ "THE ROOM ON THE ROOF by Ruskin Bond". The Hindu. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  4. ^ "The Room on the Roof and Vagrants in the Valley" by Ruskin Bond". AbeBooks. Retrieved 4 September 2013.