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R.K. Narayan Profile

Born: October 10, 1906
Died: May 13, 2001
Achievement: Felicitated with Sahitya Akademi Award and Padma Bhushan.

R.K. Narayan is one of the most famous and widely read Indian novelists. His stories were grounded in a compassionate humanism and celebrated the humour and energy of ordinary life.

R.K. Narayan was born on October 10, 1906 in Madras. His father was a provincial head master. R.K. Narayan spent his early childhood with his maternal grandmother, Parvathi in Madras and used to spend only a few weeks each summer visiting his parents and siblings. R.K. Narayan studied for eight years at Lutheran Mission School close to his grandmother’s house in Madras, also for a short time at the CRC High School. When his father was appointed headmaster of the Maharaja’s High School in Mysore, R.K. Narayan moved back in with his parents. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of Mysore.

R.K. Narayan began his writing career with Swami and Friends in 1935. Most of his work including Swami and friends is set in the fictional town of Malgudi which captures everything Indian while having a unique identity of its own. R.K. Narayan’s writing style was marked by simplicity and subtle humour. He told stories of ordinary people trying to live their simple lives in a changing world.

R.K. Narayan’s famous works include The Bachelor of Arts (1937), The Dark Room (1938), The English Teacher (1945), The Financial Expert (1952), The Guide (1958), The Man-Eater of Malgudi (1961), The Vendor of Sweets (1967), Malgudi Days (1982), and The Grandmother’s Tale (1993).

R.K. Narayan won numerous awards and honors for his works. These include: Sahitya Akademi Award for The Guide in 1958; Padma Bhushan in 1964; and AC Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature in 1980; R.K. Narayan was elected an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1982. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1989. Besides, he was also conferred honorary doctorates by the University of Mysore, Delhi University and the University of Leeds.

Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Narayan (October 10, 1906 – May 13, 2001) was an Indian novelist. His novels are characterised by Chekhovian simplicity and gentle humour. Characters in his novels tend to be very down-to-earth. His novels are all set in an imaginary place called Malgudi which is a typical South Indian town.

His writing career began with Swami and Friends. At first, he could not get the novel published. He then sent a draft to Graham Greene, who liked it so much that he arranged for its publication. Greene was to remain a close friend of his. After that, he published a continuous stream of novels, all set in Malgudi and each dealing with different characters in that fictional place. Autobiographical content forms a significant part of some of his novels, for example, The English Teacher.

Most of his novels deal with the humdrum of everyday life. In fact, his work has sometimes been criticised for being excessively simplistic and for sometimes being cliched.

List of his major works (in chronological order) :

Swami and Friends, 1935
Bachelor of Arts, 1937
The Dark Room, 1938
The English Teacher, 1945
An Astrologer’s Day and Other Stories, 1947
Mr. Sampath – The Printer of Malgudi, 1949
The Financial Expert, 1952
Grateful to Life and Death, 1953
Waiting for the Mahatma, 1955
Lawley Road and Other Stories, 1956
The Guide, 1958, made into a Hindi movie by Dev Anand
Next Sunday : sketches and essays, 1960
The Man-Eater of Malgudi, 1961
My Dateless Diary, 1964
Gods, Demons, and Other Stories, 1965
The Vendor of Sweets, 1967
A Horse and two Goats, and Other stories, 1970
The Ramayana; a shortened modern prose version, 1972
My Days, 1974
The Painter of Signs, 1976
Reluctant Guru, 1974
The Mahabharata: a shortened modern prose version, 1978
The Emerald Route, 1980
Malgudi Days, 1982
A Tiger for Malgudi, 1983
Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories, 1985
The Talkative Man, 1986
A Story-Teller’s World: Stories, Essays, Sketches, 1989
The World of Nagaraj, 1990

Filed under: Author of the Week, ,

One Response

  1. Dr. Kamayani says:

    Hi, this is a great endevor. I am looking for a short story by Narayan titled, “The Axe” I cant find an ecopy of it and due to health constraints am unable to access a library. If you would be kind enough to mail the e text of it i will be really obliged

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