Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Banking on the Brink: The Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis and R. K. Narayan’s Novel The Financial Expert

Devender Kumar


According to Umberto Eco, «every story tells a story that has already been told» (Eco, 1985: 19). In this context, The Financial Expert, a novel written by R. K. Narayan in 1952 shares interesting analogies with significant events and persons in the postmodern world of finance during the last twenty years or so. Narayan’s understanding of the world of finance echoes recent phenomena like the bankruptcy of the Lehman Brothers on 15 September 2008, the Ponzi scheme of Bernard Madoff, a swindler during the 1990s, the Sub-prime Mortgage Crisis, etc. This paper traces analogies among them and thus opens up a fascinating world of intersections and cross-references. In this intricate world, the present and the past, the real and the fictional, the existing and the evolving – all interact with each other; and the pathways thus created invite our attention to the recurring economic phenomenon of bubble formation and its eventual burst. This paper rests on the premise that the exploration of the deeply-rooted analogical relationship between various texts can make the understanding of the world of finance more comprehensible.

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