The Indian novelist R.K. Narayan was a key figure in the development of a distinctive postcolonial literature. This detailed critical study covers all of Narayan's work, offering an accessible introduction to his life and fiction with detailed analyses of the major novels. Although the chapters take the reader through the successive phases of his career, they are organised on a thematic rather than a chronological basis to allow a focus on the most significant critical issues his work raises. While the introduction sketches the outline of his life, the first chapter explores how his own background was developed into the fictional South Indian small town of Malgudi, the setting for almost all his work. The second chapter deals with the controversial issue of Narayan's politics, and the common criticism of his writing as insufficiently politically engaged. The central chapter of the book focuses on the submerged fables that animate some of his key novels, including his best known, The Guide. The fourth chapter considers Narayan's attitudes toward modernity as reflected in his essays and his fiction. Finally, there is an analysis of Narayan as storyteller and the special styles he devised to tell his elliptical, subtle and understated tales.