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Obituary:

R.K. Narayan (1906-2001), hailed as one of the greatest Anglo-Indian writer died at the age of 95 following a cardio-respiratory failure.

Praises for specific books:


The Man-eater of Malgudi

'...this is one of his most successful efforts...it cracks the whole of life wide open.'- The New Yorker

 

A Tiger for Malgudi
'Narayan's teasing wit and insights into human (and tiger) nature. '- The Times, London

'A poem for everyone from eight to eighty sounds like an old circle. But that is exactly what this story is.' - The Daily Telegraph

 

Talkative Man
'Talkative Man conveys....a narrative skill that calculates pace and distance to perfection.' - Alan Ross, London Magazine


Swami and Friends
'It is a book in ten thousand.'- Graham Greene


The Financial Expert
'This is a precious book. It is full of hidden irony and hidden humour...Humour knows no national boundaries. Only jokes have national boundaries....The author has drawn a type which should have taken its place long ago in world literature because he exists everywhere.' - Der Kurier, Berlin

A Writer's Nightmare
'(A book) to be dipped into and savoured.'- Sunday

My Dateless Diary
'Witty and often hilarious...view of the U.S.'- Sunday Herald

                                                                                       
R.K. Narayan: A Profile
Complete list of his works (grouped under genres)
Graham Greene had to say this of his great friend 
Obituary by Githa Hariharan
Praises for his specific books
Praises for R.K. Narayan
Discussion Board on Indo-anglian Literature

  


 

R.K. NARAYAN                                  

THE SOUL OF MALGUDI

Malgudi, the home of many lively characters such as Swami and his friends, Mr.Sampath and Nataraj is a small fictional town in Mysore but to us it seems that the place does exist in reality. The city of Malgudi was born out of the pen of R.K Narayan, considered to be the pioneer of Anglo-Indian writer along with G.V. Desani.
              Rasipuram Krishnaswami Narayan (in short R.K Narayan) was born in Madras, South India in 1906. He got his education at Maharaja's College (now called as Collegiate High School) in Mysore where his father was a professor. Like many successful person, he was not immediately successful in his writing career. He struggled to earn his living out of the small money he got by writing stories and essays for various newspapers. But it all changed when the draft of his first novel based on Malgudi titled Swami and Friends was read by the famous British writer Graham Greene. It got published with the financial aid of Graham Greene and from then onwards, the writer never looked back and continued enchanting millions of readers all over the world. He wrote altogether 29 novels all based on Malgudi and numerous short stories. His novel The Guide won him the prestigious Sahitya Academi Award first time given to a book in English. His novels have so wonderfully depicted the lives of common Indian that Graham Greene found his second home in India. From what I have read in Salman Rushdie' s controversial book "An Anthology of Indian Writings", R.K Narayan is currently working on a sequel to his last novel "The World of Nagaraj". It is a great disappointment there is not even a single site dedicated to R.K Narayan. In fact, there is not even a single official site of other great Anglo-Indian writers. If you are interested in knowing more about his life you can read his memoir My Days. His other publications include the collection of short stories like An Astrologer's Days and other stories, Under the Banyan tree and other stories, Lawley Road and Malgudi Days. He has written a travel book The Emerald Route, three collections of essays A Writer's Nightmare, Next Sunday and  Reluctant Guru and three books on the Indian epics viz. Gods, Demons and Others, The Ramayana and The Mahabharata. He has even a written a diary titled My Dateless Diary telling about his views on the US when he traveled there.
                                                                                         Some of R.K Narayan's novels collected in one volume can bring you joy and tear at the same time at a reasonable price. A Malgudi Omnibus (Vintage) and A Town called Malgudi (Viking) are such volumes.

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Complete List of his works:

Novels of Malgudi: Retold Legends
Swami and Friends (1935)
The Bachelor of Arts (1937)
The Dark Room (1938)
The English Teacher (1944)
Mr. Sampath-The Printer of Malgudi (1949)
The Financial Expert (1952)
The Vendor of Sweets (1967)
The Painter of Signs (1976)
A Tiger for Malgudi (1983)
Talkative Man (1986)
The World Of Nagaraj (1990)

Essays
Next Sunday (1960)
Reluctant Guru (1974)
A Writer's  Nightmare (1988)
The World of the Story-teller (1989)

 

Gods, Demons and Others (1965)
The Ramayana (1972)
The Mahabharata (1978)

Stories
A Horse and Two Goats (1970)
An Astrologer's Days and Other Stories
(1947)
Lawley Road (1956)
Malgudi Days (1982)
Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories
(1985)
The Grandmother's Tale (1993)


Memoirs
My Days (1974)


Travelogue
My Dateless Diary (1964)
The Emerald Route (1980)

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Praises for R.K. Narayan:

Narayan's comedy.....is classical art, profound in feeling and delicate in control.- The New York Times Book Review

One of the most charming masters of twentieth century fiction. - The Scotsman

Mr. Narayan writes in the main stream of the great comic tradition. - New Statesman and Nation

Since the death of Evelyn Waugh,  Narayan is the novelist I most admire in the English language.- Graham Greene

Like Paul Theroux and V.S Naipaul, Mr. Narayan has a faultless ear for the intricate eccentricities of Indian language.- The Times

Narayan is a voice of great distinction.- Sunday Times

Connoisseurs have known for years that R.K. Narayan's city of Malgudi, a hybrid of Mysore and the molten universe, is the place to go for some of the best, wisest and most affectation-free writing and some of the slyest scenes from the human comedy. -Observer

Narayan has created in this figure a type which is unique in world literature.- Flensburger Tageblatt

It is his frank perception of human motive- in its mixture of self-interest and sincerity- that makes his characters so delightful and universal. - Andrew Robinson, The Spectator

Mr. Narayan is an almost placid, good-natured storyteller whose work derives its charm from the immense clam out of which he writes.- Alfred Kazin, The New York Times Review

"There are writers- Tolstoy and Henry James to name two- whom we held in awe, writers- Turgenev and Chekhov- for whom we feel a personal affection, other writers whom we respect- Conrad for example- but who hold us at a long arm's length with their 'courtly foreign grace.' Narayan {whom I don't hesitate to name in such a context) more than any of them 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." - Graham Greene

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The Man who invented Malgudi
- Githa Hariharan
  The Times of India

After more than five decades of writing, RK Narayan's gentle pen has been laid to rest. But a writer lives on as long as his or her books are read. 
                             Besides, every one of Narayan's readers, even those who have not read him in recent years, knows what Narayan-land is called: Malgudi.
                                                 Malgudi has has been described as small-town India; As Anytown; as a part of Indian literary history. But Narayan's own choices of detail paints the most eloquent signpost of all.
                                          You know you are in the world of the storyteller, he says, when "the nearest railway station is 60 miles away, to be reached by an occasional bus passing down the highway, marching distance from the village by a shortcut across the canal."
                        Once we are in this village-town, our guide, the storyteller, awaits us. One of the storyteller himself, Narayan says he continues "in his habits and deportment the traditions of a thousand years."
                          (But sometimes he may display an amazing knowledge of modern life, acquired through the perusal of a bundle of old newspapers brought to him by the "weekly" postman every Thursday afternoon.)
                                                      This parenthetical comment on the storyteller's nature- one foot in a timeless world, the other in the restless, changing present- holds the key to Narayan's own fictional landscape.
                                                    In all his books, from the well known The Vendor of Sweets or The Guide to the less-known The Dark Room, there is a tussle going on between tradition and modernity.
                                                 But in keeping with Narayan's genial eye, this is never a sharp or painful conflict.
                                                                          The tussle between old and new, between custom and change, is more of a family affair in Narayan's stories, almost a sort of sibling rivalry that is bound to get resolved. 
                                                     There is another reason- not a literary one- why this peaceful co-existence of past and present seems particularly refreshing to us today.
                                                                        Narayan was not a trailblazer of "new writing from India"; he travelled rarely, and when he did he wrote essays rather than providing startling interview-copy.
                       Not only did he fail to get an advance swollen with global zeroes he also published some of his books on his own. 
         Perhaps the only concession he ever made to marketability was that he shortened his name from RK Narayanaswamy to RK Narayan, apparently on Graham Greene's advice.
                        On the other hand, Narayan was that whimsical, prolific, indispensable creature he describes so eloquently: a storyteller.
                                  He wrote novels, short stories, essays, re-telling of the epics, sketches and memoirs, all of which tried to convey his acute sense of the land and the people he knew.

His work was born out of his own "regional" experience; though he wrote in English, it is a quiet, transparent English that takes for granted its intimacy with the rhythm of Tamil.
                                                                         Narayan will be read and remembered for his gentle, trustworthy vision.

But I suspect Narayan would also like his new generation of readers, those who will probably come to his works via a textbook, to remember him through an additional detail.

In his stint as a Rajya Sabha member, Narayan apparently made only one intervention.

This was a passionate criticism of a school system that bends children's backs with heavy schoolbags rather than exciting their minds of imagination.

An appropriate reminder from the writer of My Days and Swami and Friends.

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I very much hope that this page on the author turns out to be helpful to those who simply love Narayan's books. Just now, I am working towards expanding this page on Narayan and in near future, I hope to make it one of the best web pages on Narayan. So, a 18 year old college student asks for help to all those who visit this page. Please do send me any articles on Narayan ( can be your views or opinions on Narayan,  reviews of his books or an obituary ). And I will have them  on my page for everyone to see. Write them to me at rigzin143s@yahoo.co.uk

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