R K Narayan is one of the few novelists of India who enjoyed a career-long fame and honour without any disputes. His reader base as well as his critics, seldom of them you would find hostile towards him or any of his books. Written around 15 novels and several books in other genres, R K Narayan is best remembered for his novels which revolved around and evolved in Malgudi. Malgudi was a hypothetical south Indian town which Narayan developed in his novels and gave it shape as his career furthered.
Born in 1906 in Madras, he was a man of his belief. Nevertheless, he always exposed the unnecessary and no longer relevant practices in Indian society. As a novelist, he was progressive and always tried to provide ‘better than the previous’ things in his novels, and at times, he succeeded as well. His contribution to the Indian English Literature is unparalleled and subsequently, R K Narayan was awarded Padma Bhusshan and Padma Vibhushan award by the Indian government.
His career as a novelist began in 1935 with the publication of his first novel – Swami and Friends. This novel, mostly the critics claim, simply came out because of his memories and narration which involved his personal experiences and thus being an autobiographical novel to some extent. Nevertheless, this novel annunciated his arrival on the horizon of Indian writing in English. His second novel – The Bachelor of Arts, certainly better than his previous one, reinforced his place. This novel tells the story of Chandran, a fresh graduate, who is unable to find stability in his life. As a twist or say for the sake of exposing the ‘traditionally dogmatic practices’ Narayan introduces two love stories in the novel. One fails because of horoscope and another begins with horoscope at the end.
He has written over 15 novels (nearly) but he is remembered and regarded high mainly because of the novels stated below:
- The Guide (1958)
- Talkative Man (1986)
- Waiting for the Mahatma (1955)
- The English Teacher (1945)
- The Man-Eater of Malgudi (1961)
His novels exhibited a kind of subtle atmosphere very much apt for the kind of fiction R K Narayan wrote. The presence of dynamic Malgudi in the backdrop added soul to his plots as well his characters were, most of the times, animated and breathing. He wrote about the life of common people and the plight that the had to face every day. Social fabric in his novels was attached and detached according to the demand of the plot. From the theme of love to the theme of independence, he wrote almost every kind of novels. Rightly so, today he is regarded as one of the three pillars of the Indian English fiction.
The place that R K Narayan occupies in Indian English literature is hailed by the critics in India as well as other countries. He set the stage open for the authors to come and display their creative skills. To conclude, he was very essential phenomenon for Indian English writing and helped us get global with ‘our say’ in fiction.