On R.K Narayan

Date of Publication: 2001-05-00
Language: English

[When R.K. Narayan died in May 2001, Amitav was asked to comment on his passing for Tehelka.com, a literary site based in New Delhi. Below is what he sent.]

I am deeply grieved to learn of R.K.Narayan's death.

From time to time India produces a writer whose stories, by sheer virtue of their narrative power, spill over linguistic and regional barriers and seep into the soil of the entire subcontinent. Sarat Chandra was one such writer and his stories are now as much loved in Kerala and Karnataka as they are in Bengal. Prem Chand was another such. R.K.Narayan was one of the very few contemporary writers to gain entry into this select group. His Malgudi has already become a part of the mythic landscape of India, a country that every Indian dreams of inhabiting: untouched and incorrupt, a place where no event is without meaning and no pain is without remedy.

Narayan was a protean figure who could justly have claimed a substantial part of the credit for creating a worldwide readership for contemporary Indian writing. That he never made such claims is a tribute to his many extraordinary qualities as a human being. His death is an incalculable loss, not just for India, but for readers everywhere.