R. K. Narayan

From ArticleWorld

R.K.Narayan is one writer who is remembered with affection by the massess of India. He is known for his very authentic imagery of South-India and some of its villages. His style reflects the easy going out-look he had on his life. Few of his peers have been able to blend such gentle humor and skill in describing the everyday events in a small town. While Malgudi, a fictional town, is a very Indian town and could be any small place in the South of India, it remains unique, thanks to R.K.Narayan’s brilliant stories.

The Early Years

R.K. Narayan was the third among the eight children. He was born Rasipuram Krishnaswami Ayyar Naranayanaswami on the tenth day of October, 1906. He was sent to live with his maternal gradmother at the age of two and spent most of his time with his grandparents and uncles. He visited his family every summer. That he was very close to his grandma is reflected in his first work Swami and Friends . He was a teenager when his father was appointed the headmaster of the Maharaja's high school in Mysore. Much to his father’s surprise and annoyance, he was indifferent to his studies. He did not gain an entrance to college right away after graduating from high school.


R.K.Narayan attended Lutheran Mission School close to his grandmother's house in Madras for eight years. He studied briefly at the CRC High School and rejoined his family in Mysore. He attended Maharaja's high school in Mysore, when his father was appointed the headmaster, as mentioned before. After an initial setback, he obtained his bachelor's degree from the University of Mysore.

While most of his contemporaries spent their time abroad, this author chose to stay in India. He was invited to the United States by the Rockfeller Foundation in 1956. His literary career began with his short stories appearing in a National Newspaper, The Hindu. He also worked for another newspaper, Justice, as a correspondent from Mysore.

Literary Style

Besides his gentle humor, his writings show that he had an eye for detail. There is a Chekovian simplicity in his novels and the characters are very real, down-to-earth. They are so vividly described that they could be anyone from a small village in the South.

His first novel was Swami and Friends. Swami was afraid of the boy with knife. His friendship with Rajam leads them to form MCC: Malgudi Cricket Club, an effect of the British Raj. He was very close to his grandmother and was scared of his dad. This is typical of many children, some times the settings and details change.

R.K.Narayan, through his simple prose, captured the village in the South with the British Raj. Intrestingly, no publisher was ready to take a chance on this novelist. Through a friend, Purna, his manuscript landed in the hands of the celebrated author, Graham Greene, who loved it and published it. So successful were his style and the setting (Malgudi) that he made it the background for all his stories.R.K. Narayan let his readers into his world with the autobiographical elements in his novel The English Teacher.

A writer whose novels were televised (Swami and Friends ) and adopted for a film (Guide) died on 13 May 2001. The Indian Literary scene lost a writer who wrote about the laiety and the every-day life with humor.