RK Narayan

Name: Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami

Date Of Birth: 10 October 1906

Death: 13 May 2001 (aged 94)

Occupation: Writer

RK Naryan is a well-known story writer, with major accomplishments in the field of literature. Narayan was born in Madras into a Iyer vadama brahmin family. He was born in a British era, so he was well aware about the colonial period, because he spent childhood in the period. Other than him his parents were having 7 children, Narayan had 2 sisters and 5 brothers, his one of the brothers RK Laxman is also an immensely popular cartoonist. Narayan’s father was headmaster and he studied in his father’s school for quite a few years. He lived with his grandmother for the majority of his childhood, there he had a peacock and monkey as a friend, she used to teach him arithmetic, mythology, classic Indian music and Sanskrit. Narayan changed so many schools, and later in his teenage years he went to Mysore, because of his father’s transfer, where he prepared for the Mysore college but failed, he started writing too. After a year he passed the entrance exam, he pursued his degree and after graduating, he went to the school as a teacher. But he was destined for something else, he quit the job and decided to write. For many of his work he was mocked and scorned by the people around him and by the publishers too.

He went to his sister’s house where; he fell in love with a 15-year-old girl, her name was Rajam, despite facing so many upheavals, he finally managed to marry her. He also was a reporter for Madras based paper ‘the justice’. But his personal life was not going that well, in 1933 Rajam died due to typhoid. Her death affected her, he was depressed for a long time and never remarried again, this inspired him to write his next novel “the english teacher”. According to him this novel has a deeper meaning and also can conceive as his autobiography.

Stories and Books

His books were getting recognitions, as the theme of his books were social political problems. Caste, gender and taboo based problems are the central theme of his all creations. His books later got published in foreign too. One of his famous books which was adapted by the Door darshan TV program, Malgudi days and some of the stories from the books are taught to the students in schools. In 1953, his works were finally recognized and his story was published in America, while visiting America, he wrote “the guide”, another novel based on his experience in America. His books like ‘waiting for Mahatma’ and ‘the financial expert’ were highly appreciated. Suddenly he decided to write mythological books like god demons and others which later got published. Ramyana and the Mahabharata are one of those. The collection of his daily journal ‘my dateless diary’ gets published.

Narayana books related to Malgudi days became a trend like the Harry potter series in that period of time. His friend and mentor stated; “Whom next shall I meet in Malgudi? That is the thought that comes to me when I close a novel of Mr Narayan’s. I do not wait for another novel. I wait to go out of my door into those loved and shabby streets and see with excitement and a certainty of pleasure a stranger approaching, past the bank, the cinema, the haircutting saloon, a stranger who will greet me I know with some unexpected and revealing phrase that will open a door on to yet another human existence.”

— Graham Greene

Later Life

Later Narayana was requested to write a book for Karnataka tourism, which he finds that deserves better than republished it as the “The Emerald route”. He used to live alone in Mysore, and developed a keen interest in farming, so he bought an acre of land and started practicing agriculture. Every day, he goes for a walk in the market to interact with the common people for the content for his characters.

Narayana’s work was well appreciated by the people, not because they were telling something different but his books and stories were relatable which attracts the reader. Malgudi days one of his popular books, which directly associate with the behavior and lifestyle of common people living around.

He joined politics and became the member of the Rajya Sabha, most of his time as a member of parliament he contributed for education of the kids. He also worked as the writer for THE HINDU and THE ATLANTIC. His daughter died due to cancer, after her his granddaughter started to take care of him. During his last days Narayan started spending more of his time with N. ram editor in THE HINDU.

He published his last book grandmother’s tales based on the stories told by his grandmother. About a woman who is in search of his husband, who went missing.

Awards and achievements

  • Sahitya Akademi Award (1958)
  • Padma Bhushan (1964)
  • AC Benson Medal by the British Royal Society of Literature (1980)
  • Padma Vibhushan (2001).