Penguin India has reissued four R.K. Narayan novels in its silver and white Modern Classics editions, making them perfect gifts for friends and family who have misplaced their old copies, or await introduction to the profound charm of one of the last century’s great literary artistes. Pico Iyer’s introduction for the series sounds like it was written for Western readers, but it has its moments of illumination.

Waiting for the Mahatma: 200 pages, Rs225; The Vendor of Sweets: 151 pages, Rs225; The Man-eater of Malgudi: 194 pages, Rs225; The Guide: 224 pages, Rs225.

All four novels are reminders of how fundamentally Narayan and his Malgudi are part of our self-image and our imaginative landscapes. As Indian writing in English expands its canon, the reissues recall some of our quietest—and greatest —glories yet.