U R Ananthamurthy was born in the village of Melige in the Shimoga district of Karnataka on December 21st 1932. He is one of the most important representatives of the “Navya” or “New Movement” in the literature of the Kannada language, which is spoken by about 50 million people in India and elsewhere, including in Mauritius, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
Ananthamurthy grew up a “Gandhian socialist”. He read English literature at the University of Mysore and earned his doctorate from the University of Birmingham, England, with a thesis entitled, Politics and Fiction in the 1930s.
He has published five novels, one play, eight short-story collections, three collections of poetry and eight more of essays, and his works have been translated into several Indian and European languages.
His work is known for its humanity and its courage in questioning cultural norms. Best known is his 1966 novel, Samskara, a story that asks: Can culture survive only if it is followed with blind fervour? Latest to be honoured was his novel, Bharatipura, which was shortlisted for the 2011 Hindu Literary prize and for last year’s DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. Novelist and literary critic, Chandrahas Choudhury, writing in the Wall Street Journal that same year, said that the power of Ananthamurthy’s fiction “resides in the way its universal ideas are worked out through the frame of the local.”
Aranthamurthy died on 22 August 2014, aged 81, in Bangalore.