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The Writerly Life: Selected Non-Fiction

S. Krishnan (Editor) R.K. Narayan (Author)
Synopsis When R.K. Narayan passed away last year at the age of ninety-four, tributes poured in from fans and admirers, celebrating the art of this master storyteller who has often been described as India's greatest English language writer. Narayan is better known for his novels set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi, but his essays are as delightful and enchanting as any of his novels. This collection begins with the short essays which Narayan wrote as a weekly contribution to the Hindu, the subjects of which are as diverse as umbrellas, weddings, monkeys, South Indian coffee, films, the black market, old age, the caste system, gardening and Vayudoot. The later, longer essays dwell on the cultural ambiguities that persist in our nation: Narayan’s description of the linguistic confusion between the North and the South with the advent of national television is reminiscent of the misunderstood messages in his famous story 'A Horse and Two Goats'. The highlight of this section is a scathingly funny essay on the making of the film The Guide, a project that distorted Narayan’s narrative beyond recognition. In a separate section on the world of the writer, Narayan describes the predicament of writing in English in India, an art which he pioneered, and the pitfalls of being considered for the Nobel Prize in Literature which he never got. This volume also includes the complete text of My Dateless Diary, Narayan’s jottings about his travels in America when he was in the process of writing The Guide. As he journeys across the vast continent on a diet of rice and yoghurt and without the aid of an alarm clock, Narayan recounts a myriad memorable moments, from his encounter with the mysterious Greta Garbo to the evening gathering where he is hailed as one of the three greatest living authors in the world. Taken together, these writings provide a fascinating glimpse into the private world of one of the most gifted writers of our time, and reveal the ways in which Narayan was able to convert the small and ordinary things of everyday life into memorable literary anecdotes.
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About the authors

S. Krishnan

S. Krishnan taught English literature at Madras Christian College and at Annamalai University. He spent many years with the United States Information Agency in their educational and cultural programmes. He is now a weekly columnist for the Hindu, consulting editor with the Indian Review of Books and senior editor of Shruti, a music and dance magazine. Krishnan has edited several volumes of R.K. Narayan’s writings for Penguin Books. He lives in Chennai.

R.K. Narayan

R. K. Narayan was born in Madras in south India and educated in Mysore which had also been his home for over half-a-century now. Narayan was one of India’s most distinguished writers at work today. Through his several novels and short stories, he had created the enchanting fictional world of Malgudi which has captivated his readers throughout the world and, more recently, millions of Indian television viewers who saw TV adaptations of several of his Malgudi stories. Narayan’s books are regularly published in USA, UK and India and have also been widely translated into several European and Indian languages. His novel The Guide (1958) won the Sahitya Akademi Award, India’s highest literary honour. In 1980, Narayan was awarded the A.C. Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature and in 1982 he was made an Honorary Member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1986, he was nominated for a 6-year term to Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Indian Parliament in recognition of his outstanding literary stature. Apart from The Mahabharata, Narayan had also retold the other great Indian epic The Ramayana, as well as a selection of Indian legends in Gods, Demons and Others.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Writerly Life: Selected Non-Fiction
Format Softcover
Date published: 01.01.2002
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 0143028995
length xiii+536p., 23cm