R K Narayan (October 10, 1906 - May 13, 2001) is among the best-known and most widely-read Indian novelists writing in English. He was born in Madras and was an elder brother to popular cartoonist R K Laxman.
Narayan wrote fourteen novels, five volumes of short stories, a number of travelogues and collections of non-fiction, condensed versions of Indian epics in English, and the memoir My Days. Most of Narayan's work, starting with his first novel Swami and Friends (1935), captures many Indian traits while retaining a unique identity of its own.
He went abroad to the United States in 1956 at the invitation of the Rockefeller Foundation. He began his literary career with short stories which appeared in The Hindu, and also worked for some time as the Mysore correspondent of Justice, a Madras-based newspaper.
His writing career began with Swami and Friends. After that, he published a continuous stream of novels, all set in Malgudi and each dealing with different characters in that fictional place. Autobiographical content forms a significant part of some of his novels. Some of Narayan's short stories were adapted into a television series, Malgudi Days. It was telecast on Doordarshan.
Narayan won numerous awards and honours for his works. He won the National Prize of the Sahitya Akademi for The Guide. He was honoured with the Padma Bhushan for distinguished service to literature in 1964.
He was elected an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1982 and nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1989. In addition, the University of Mysore, Delhi University and the University of Leeds conferred honorary doctorates on him. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2000. He was short listed for the Nobel Prize in Literature several times but never won.