One of leading figures of early Indian literature in English, the one who made India accessible to the people in foreign countries—he gave unusual window to people to sneak a look into Indian culture and sensibilities. His simple and modest writing style is often compared to that of the great American author William Faulkner, the one who came from a humble south Indian background where he was consistently encouraged to involve himself into literature. He is – R K Narayan
Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami (R k Narayan), one of the most widely read Indian novelist, took a job as a school teacher in a local school after completing his graduation. Soon after, he realized that he could only be happy in writing fiction, which is why he decided to stay at home and begin his career as a writer.
Beginning his writing career with ‘Swami and Friends’, most of his works including Swami and friends were set in the fictional town of ‘Malgudi’, captures everything Indian while having unique identity of its own.
‘Swami and Friends’ was rejected by a lot of publishers. He then sent the manuscript of ‘Swami and Friends’ to his friend at Oxford who in turn showed it to Graham Greene who got the book published. R K Narayan’s second novel ‘The Bachelor of Arts’ was also published by Graham Greene. To target the English speaking audience Greene counselled Narayan on how to write and what to write.
His famous works includes ‘Bachelor of Arts’, ‘The Dark Room’, ‘The English Teacher’, ‘The Financial Expert’, ‘The Guide’, ‘The Man eater of Malgudi’, ‘The Vendor of sweets’, ‘Malgudi Days’ and ‘The Grandmother’s Tales’.
His stories were grounded in a compassionate humanism and celebrated the humour and energy of ordinary life. His writing style was marked by simplicity and suttle humour. He told stories of ordinary people trying to live their simple lives in changing world.
He was felicitated with numerous accolades for his literary work Sahitya Akademi Award (1958), Padma Bhushan (1964), AC Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature (1980), honorary membership of the American Academy of Arts and Literature, Padma Vibhushan to name a few. In 1967, he received the first of his honorary doctorates from the University of Leeds. In 1980 he was named as the honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
One of the most famous literary works of R K Narayan is ‘Malgudi Days’, a collection of 32 unique stories, portraying the facets of life in Malgudi. “Everyone in the book seems to have a capacity for responding to the quality of his particular hour. It’s an art we need to study and revive.”- New York Times description.
The simple, symbolic and traditional music makes us to go back in those good old days. It reminds us of our childhood days when we use to read and as well as watch the famous fiction on the south Indian town of Malgudi penned by renowned Indian novelist R K Narayan.
The stories seemed to be real and that was the reason why people asked him to locate Malgudi town on the map of South India. Many people also believed that Malgudi was his home town. He once narrated the town was fictional, but the experience and observations were universal. He stated that you can take any town in south India during that period and say it was Malgudi and you won’t be out of place in saying that. Malgudi days could have been anybody’s daily experience in that specific town.
As a reader, I felt that the novel describes the relationship between the members in the family and various social issues faced by the people in rural India during pre-independence period. The endings are quite interesting as they don’t reveal the final situation but instead keep people imagining about the final conclusion of the story. The stories in the book deal with ordinary men and women and simple issues they face in their real life. It is fascinating, witty and a good-read.
R K Narayan made tremendous contribution to the field of arts and literature through his literary works but he will be remembered for the invention of Malgudi. Though the famous novelist has left for the heavenly journey in 2001, his writings will keep him immortal among the fiction lovers.
The fictional town of Malgudi, the real life issues, situations, experiences and people around him inspired immortal R K Narayan to create wonderful piece of art ‘Malgudi Days’, what inspires you? Share your story with us….