Originally written and published in 1952, R. K. Narayan’s novel, The Financial Expert, like his other stories, takes place in Malgudi, a small southern Indian town. The book focusses on its central character named Margayya, who is known and revered in his local community as the financial wizard of the town. He dispenses his expert advice under a banyan tree, helping people with routine and minor financial matters which form a considerable portion of the daily life of Indians, including, how to acquire loans from the Co-operative Bank.
The book dwells on Margayya’s life, thoughts, and motivations, offering readers a brilliant psychoanalysis of his fascinating character. He is described as a man filled with many hopes and dreams, but restricted by limited resources. An ambitious man, he utilises his talent and knowledge by earning a living, advising those who are more than willing to pay him for it.
A memorable book, The Financial Expert follows Margayya's incredible journey from rags-to-riches, narrating many humorous incidents along the way including, an encounter with the Bank’s Secretary, and an accident which results in the loss of his account book, which was thrown down a drain by his son Balu. Margayya grows to become rich and reverts to financial wizardry.
The vivid images and insights portrayed in the novel, including his difficult interaction with the Malgudi residents and travails with his own family, paint a rich, poignant, and authentic view of Indian life.
Throughout the novel, the author keeps the readers glued by introducing many intriguing characters, who on the face of it seem to be playing only minor roles, but are in fact, essential, contributing greatly to the storyline.