U. R. Ananthamurthy (1932–2014), writer, teacher, literary critic, and public intellectual, was born in Shivamogga district in Karnataka. In 1965, his debut novel, Samskara, took the literary world by storm with its unflinching portrayal of the rigid orthodoxy in Brahmin society. Since then, it has become a landmark novel of the modernist, or Navya, movement of the 1950s and 1960s in Kannada literature. In a career that spanned more than five decades, Ananthamurthy wrote five novels, several collections of short stories, poetry, essays, a play, and an autobiography. He received the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honour, in 1994, and was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize in 2013.
The Essential U. R. Ananthamurthy is a five-part compendium of select fictional and non-fictional works, poetry, and autobiographical writings from one of India’s most illustrious and outspoken writers. The section ‘Novels’ portrays characters in conflict with tradition, idealism, and modernity in a rapidly changing independent India through excerpts from powerful novels such as Samskara, Bharathipura, Avasthe, and Bhava. ‘Poetry’ presents five evocative poems on the themes of power and politics. ‘Short Stories’ highlights the chief themes that preoccupied Ananthamurthy the constraints of the traditional order, the cultural dominance of the West, the sinister workings of power, and the creativity of political dissent.
‘Essays and Speeches’ captures the range and depth of Ananthamurthy’s democratic imagination through his writings on cultural identity and literature, community and creativity, linguistic and nationalist politics, and on figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Ram Manohar Lohia. And, the final section, ‘Memoirs’, gathers Ananthamurthy’s memories of family, friendships, work, and travel from the different phases of his life.
The Essential U. R. Ananthamurthy offers a rich glimpse into the mind of one of modern India’s most profound writers and thinkers and demonstrates why Ananthamurthy’s works will endure for generations to come.
About the Author
N. Manu Chakravarthy is a visiting professor of film and culture theory at several universities and film institutes. He won Swarna Kamal, the best film critic award, at the 58th National Film Awards in 2010 and the Karnataka Sahitya Akademi award for his book Madhyama Marga in 2014. In 2022, he presided as the chairman of the jury for the K. R. Mohanan Endowment Award at the International Film Festival, Kerala. He has recently completed a study of U. R. Ananthamurthy for the Sahitya Akademi.
Chandan Gowda is Ramakrishna Hegde Chair Professor of Decentralization Studies at the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bengaluru. He has translated U. R. Ananthamurthy’s novella, Bara, and edited Theatres of Democracy: Selected Essays of Shiv Visvanathan, The Way I See It: A Gauri Lankesh Reader, and A Life in the World, a book of autobiographical interviews with Ananthamurthy. At present, he is co-translating and editing The Greatest Kannada Short Stories Ever Told. He is a columnist with Deccan Herald.