Novelist R K Narayan dies

Indian novelist R K Narayan died in hospital today after suffering heart trouble and breathing problems, a close family friend said. He was 94.

Indian novelist R K Narayan died in hospital today after suffering heart trouble and breathing problems, a close family friend said. He was 94.

Narayan’s body was cremated in Madras, his home city, family friend N Ram said.

Ram, editor of the Madras-based Frontline magazine, said Narayan went into hospital in southern India two weeks ago after he suffered internal bleeding, and was put on a life-support system.

Narayan died early today of cardiac and respiratory failure, doctors told Ram.

The writer, whose works offered witty and perceptive descriptions of Indian life, was born in Madras, capital of Tamil Nadu state, and educated there. He graduated from Mysore University in the neighbouring Karnataka state.

Narayan, who wrote in English, began his career as a teacher in 1930. He soon took to journalism and became a full-time writer two years later.

He published his first novel, Swami and Friends, in 1935.

Of Narayan’s 34 novels, some of the best-known were The Guide, Bachelor of Arts, The Man Eater of Malgudi and Malgudi Days.

President K R Narayanan called Narayan a doyen of the Indo-Anglican genre, saying: ‘‘English, in his hands, became an Indian language liberating itself to find its tongue in a decolonised cultural space.’’

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said: ‘‘In Narayan’s passing away, India has lost one of its finest authors, and one whose books I have enjoyed reading for many years.’’

The writer was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Narayan won the Sahitya Academy, an Indian literary award, for The Guide in 1958. The work was made into a film by an Indian director.

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