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Welcome to Epitaph for D’s Art Takes. Here we present the creative legacies of influential people, who are no longer among us. Today we invite you to take a look at the life of the Indian writer, R K Narayan.

Rasipuram Krishnaswami Narayanswami was born in 1906 in Madras (now Chennai), India. Young Narayan was raised by his grandmother, as his father travelled often for work, and his mother’s health made her unable to tend to him. He attended the Christian Mission School, and then the Maharaja’s College in Mysore.


Upon completing his education, Narayan worked a few jobs. He worked as an assistant editor and a teacher. But he finally found his footing as an author a few years after graduating, when he penned his first novel, Swami and Friends (1935). The book was set in the fictitious Indian town of Malgudi, which became home to many of his characters, in several books to come.

The author earned international fame with his second book, Bachelor of Arts (1939). The book was very well received even in England, where it was published by Graham Greene, noted English writer and journalist. In 1953, Narayan wowed America with two more books – Grateful to Life & Death, and The Financial Expert. Arguably, one of Narayan’s most loved books was The Guide (1958), which was adapted into a play as well as a super-hit Bollywood movie.

Other beloved works penned by Narayan include The Man-Eater of Malgudi (1961), The Vendor of Sweets (1967), and A Tiger for Malgudi (1983). He also wrote short stories, including Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories (1985), and The Grandmother’s Tale (1993).

Narayan’s words live on through his books which are still read, taught and studied in schools across India and the world even today. His unique ability to spin a fascinating story out of the mundane is what made him a celebrated novelist. He died in 2001.

“It seems to me that we generally do not have a correct measure of our own wisdom.”

– R. K. Narayan, The Guide (1958)

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