R. K. Narayan (10 October 1906 – 13 May 2001), full name Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami, was an Indian writer known for his works set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi. He was a leading author of early Indian literature in English along with Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao.
Narayan's mentor and friend Graham Greene was instrumental in getting publishers for Narayan’s first four books including the semi-autobiographical trilogy of Swami and Friends, The Bachelor of Arts and The English Teacher. The fictional town of Malgudi was first introduced in Swami and Friends. Narayan’s The Financial Expert was hailed as one of the most original works of 1951 and Sahitya Akademi Award winner The Guide was adapted for film and for Broadway.
Narayan highlights the social context and everyday life of his characters. He has been compared to William Faulkner who also created a similar fictional town and likewise explored with humour and compassion the energy of ordinary life. Narayan's short stories have been compared with those of Guy de Maupassant because of his ability to compress a narrative. However he has also been criticised for the simplicity of his prose.
In a career that spanned over sixty years Narayan received many awards and honours including the AC Benson Medal from the Royal Society of Literature, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan, India's third and second highest civilian awards. He was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India's parliament.
He is also known as Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami and Rasipuram Krishnaswami Narayan.