Published in 1958, The Guide is a novel by Indian author R.K. Narayan set in his fictional South Indian town of Malgudi. It follows the life of an Indian man, Raju, as he evolves throughout his life to become one of the most prominent holy men in India.
Narayan wrote the novel on his first trip abroad, staying in a residential hotel in Berkeley, California. However, its source was not American but Indian, and Narayan described the work as “totally Indian” (specifically, it was a drought in Mysore and a group of Brahmins fasting and praying in the river that inspired him).
The protagonist of The Guide is Raju, a tour guide living in Malgudi known for his corrupt tendencies. He falls in love with a mistreated married woman named Rosie, and the two begin having an affair together. However, as time goes on and Rosie becomes more and more successful as a dancer, Raju becomes excessively controlling and soon ends up in jail because of his overbearing and greedy actions. After he is released, in a turn of events, he is mistaken as a holy man in a town he happens to be passing through. Because he decides to keep the act up, he eventually gets himself in a situation where he must fast for the length of several days, heavily publicized and lauded for his actions.
The Guide won R.K. Narayan several awards, including but not limited to the Indian National Academy of Letter's Sahitya Akademi Award in 1960 (it was the first novel written in English to win this). The book was adapted into both a movie (1965) and a play of the same name (1968).