R. K. Narayan's career as an Indian writer in English spanned the best part of the last century. For decades he was the only Indian writer after Rabindranath Tagore known all over the English-speaking world. Narayan's output is weighty: over thirty books. His range is rare: novels, novellas, stories, epics retold, travel books, columns, causeries, skits, radio talks, and a memoir; he was his own publisher, even edited a journal for a couple of years. He had sold in hundred thousands even as early as the 1960s. His short stories and novels have been serialised on Doordarshan and achieved popular success. Graham Greene praised Narayan's for 'a humour strange to our fiction'; A. N. Kaul compared Narayan's prose to Shakespeare's blank verse: Narayan's medium conveys 'not only the general Indian sensibility but a whole range of character, personality, and temperament with it.'
Narayan was the first writer in English to receive the Sahitya Akademi Award, 1960. In 1996, the Akademi conferred on him its highest literary honour, Fellowship; and nominated him for the Nobel Prize.
For a writer of provincial, non-metro origins Narayan was forced to combat, in the early decades, a closed sceptical world. His bitter struggle was the equivalent of digging through concrete roadblocks with his bare hands: this Indian success is a miracle of he creative spirit. The achievement of Narayan is as much national as personal, as much moral as literary.
In this monograph, Ranga Rao presents for the general reader the fascinating story of R. K. Narayan, of his life and work.
About the Author:
Ranga Rao is the author of three novels, Fowl-Filcher, The Drunk Tantra, and The River is Three-Quarters Full, (all three published by Penguin India); and a collection of short stories, An Indian Idyll and Other Stories (Ravi Dayal, Delhi). He translated as anthology of Telugu short stories for Penguin India, Classic Telugu Short Stories. Ranga Rao is now in the English Department of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prasanthi Nilayam, Andhra Pradesh.
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