(1906 - 2001)
“You become [a] writer by writing. It is a yoga.” 

R.K. Narayan, was a master storyteller and one of the most celebrated Indian novelists to write in English. Most of his stories were set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi, in which he wrote about the peculiarities of everyday life in his trademark style, noted for its grace, simplicity and genial good humour. Besides novels, he wrote short stories, travelogues, condensed versions of Indian epics in English and memoirs.

Born in Madras [Chennai] and raised mainly by his Grandmother, Rasipuram Krishnaswami Narayan had a brief stint at teaching before deciding to become a writer.  He struggled to find a British publisher for his first novel in English, Swami and Friends (1935), but it came to the attention of Graham Greene who found a publisher and suggested he use the name R K Narayan.  This happy chance led to a lifelong friendship between the two great authors, with frequent exchanges of letters and the occasional meeting in which they discussed their art. Narayan wrote of Greene "He was a big support for me, editing, titling and proofing my works besides finding publishers." Greene was equally appreciative, writing "Narayan wakes in me a spring of gratitude, for he has offered me a second home.  Without him I could never have known what it is like to be Indian".

The death of his wife, Rajam, in 1939 was the most shattering blow of Narayan's life, and his experiments with the psychic, described in his fourth novel The English Teacher [1945], in attempting to come to terms with his loss, led him to fashion a personal philosophy which suffused his subsequent work. In addition to a prodigious literary output, and as he was cut off from England owing to the war and needed an outlet for his works, in 1942 Narayan launched his own publishing venture, Indian Thought.

Narayan's honours included the Indian Sahitya Akademi Award, the Royal Society of Literature's Arthur Christopher Benson Award and, in 1964, one of his country's highest civil honours, the Padma Bhushan. In 1985, he was nominated to India's upper house, the Rajya Sabha, for his contributions to the nation's culture.

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Books by this author

The Bachelor of Arts



The English Teacher