Timeline History

R.K. Narayan

R. K. Narayan (October 10, 1906 - May 13, 2001), born Rasipuram Krishnaswami Ayyar Naranayanaswami, is among the well known and most widely read Indian novelists writing in English.
R.K. Narayan was essentially a storyteller, whose sensitive, well-drawn portrayals of twentieth-century Indian life were set mostly in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi. Most of Narayan's work, starting with his first novel Swami and Friends (1935), captures many Indian traits while having a unique identity of its own. He was sometimes compared to the United States writer William Faulkner, whose novels were also grounded in a compassionate humanism and celebrated the humour and energy of ordinary life.
Narayan lived till ninety-five, writing for more than fifty years, and publishing till he was eighty seven. He wrote fifteen novels, five volumes of short stories, a number of travelogues and collections of non-fiction, an English translation of Indian epics, and the memoir My Days
His writing career began with Swami and Friends. At first, he could not get the novel published. Eventually, the draft was shown to Graham Greene by a mutual friend, Purna. Greene liked it so much that he arranged for its publication. Greene was to remain a close friend and admirer 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 events surrounding the death of his young wife and how he coped with the loss form the basis of The English Teacher. Mr. Narayan became his own publisher, when World War II cut him off from Britain.


Mr. Narayan won numerous awards and honours for his works. He won the National Prize of the Sahitya Akademi, the Indian literary academy, for The Guide in 1958. He was honoured with the Padma Bhushan, a coveted Indian award, for distinguished service to literature in 1964. In 1980, R. K. Narayan was awarded the AC Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature. He was an honorary member of the society. He was elected an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1982 and nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1989. In addition, the University of Mysore, Delhi University and the University of Leeds conferred honorary doctorates on him. His work is unique in writing field.

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