Ananthamurthy is no more

Literary icon died of multiple organ failure

Ananthamurthy is no more

Iconic Kannada writer, academician and thinker U R Ananthamurthy passed away at a private hospital in the City on Friday evening.

The 82-year-old Jnanpith awardee died of multiple organ failure at 6:33 pm. Dr H Sudarshan Ballal, director of Manipal Hospital, said that Ananthamurthy was admitted to the hospital 10 days ago.

“His kidneys had failed. He had been on dialysis for many years. In the last two days, when his condition worsened, he was shifted to the ICU. He had lung infection and blood streaming into the lungs. A team of 10 doctors was attending to him. However, after a long battle, we lost him at 6:33 pm,” he said.

Ananthamurthy, who was one of the most prominent representatives of the Navya movement in Kannada literature, is survived by his wife, Esther, son Sharath and daughter Anuradha. He is the author of five novels, a play, eight short-story collections, three anthologies of poetry and several essays in Kannada in addition to some in English.

Most of his Kannada writings have been translated into several Indian and European languages. He was shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize in 2013.

Udupi Rajagopalacharya Ananthamurthy, who was born into an orthodox Brahmin family at Melige in Tirthahalli taluk of  Shimoga district on December 21, 1932, grew up to be a “Gandhian socialist”.

The outspoken writer’s views on various social, religious and political issues triggered several controversies over the decades. His recent remarks about Narendra Modi had enraged the BJP and the Sangh Parivar activists who had staged violent protests.

Ananthamurthy, who began his education at a traditional Sanskrit school in Tirthahalli, did his postgraduation in English literature at the University of Mysore.

Later, he went to England for higher studies on a Commonwealth scholarship and obtained his doctorate from the University of Birmingham in 1966 for his thesis “Politics and Fiction in the 1930s”.

He began his career as a lecturer in the English Department of the University of Mysore. He was currently the Chancellor of Central University of Karnataka in Gulbarga.

In the last three decades, he held several prominent positions, including that of Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, Chairman of the National Book Trust of India, Indian Institute of Social Sciences as well as Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. He was the president of the Sahitya Akademi from 1993 to 1998.

Ananthamurthy’s works are mainly known for their humanity and courage in questioning cultural norms and accepted beliefs. In his 1966 novel, “Samskara,” he asks: Can culture survive only if it is followed with blind fervour? Novelist and literary critic Chandrahas Choudhury, writing in the Wall Street Journal in 2011, said the power of Ananthamurthy’s fiction “resides in the way its universal ideas are worked out through the frame of the local.”

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