From India -- gentle comedy; Malgudi Days, by R.K. Narayan. New York: The Viking Press. 246 pp. $14.95.

The Indian writer often mentioned as a Nobel Prize candidate is, in some ways , a latter-day Dickens or Twain -- a master of vernacular comedy who substitutes for his great forerunners' passionate social consciences an unruffled tolerance for human folly and belief in essential human goodness.

In this new collection -- a distillation from two earlier books, with several longer later stories -- Narayan displays his virtuosic understanding of character. The denizens of his fictional Southern Indian town whom we come to know intimately include assorted students, tradesmen, householders, and criminals; the mailman who ''allowed himself to get mixed up with the fortunes of the persons to whom he was carrying letters''; ''the oldest man in town,'' oppressed and annoyed by the ceremonies devised to honor him; even guard dogs and cobras impress us instantly with their vividly rendered personalities.

Narayan always writes wonderfully (in English); but it must be admitted that his plots are often thin, and overrely on coincidence or contrivance. One splendid exception is the recent story ''Second Opinion'' about a semi-dutiful son dominated by his widowed mother. The individual stories seem less striking than does ''Malgudi Days'' considered as an organic whole -- a gallery of fascinating people which expands into an authentic human comedy.

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.