Udupi R Ananthamurthy

Udupi R Ananthamurthy, a nominee for the 2013 Man Booker International Prize, was a resident with the IWP in Iowa City twice: in 1974 and 1986.

Ananthamurthy, born in the village of Melige in Mysore on December 21, 1932, is one of the most important representatives of the “Navya” or “New Movement” in the literature of the Kannada language. Kannada is spoken by about 50 million people in India, Mauritius, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates.

Ananthamurthy graduated in English literature from 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 fervor? Latest to be honored was his novel, Bharatipura, which was shortlisted for the 2011 Hindu Literary prize and for last year’s DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.

Ananthamurthy became the Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, Kerala, in 1987. He served as the Chairman of National Book Trust India for the year 1992. In 1993 he was elected as the president of Sahitya Academy. At present Ananthamurthy is serving as the second time chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India.

Ananthamurthy has participated and delivered lectures in numerous seminars as writer and orator both in and outside the country. He is well known for his famous interviews of notable Kannada writers for Mysore radio.

Most of Ananthamurthy's literary works deal with psychological aspects of people in different situations, times and circumstances. His writings supposedly analyze aspects ranging from challenges and changes faced by Brahmin families of Karnataka to bureaucrats dealing with politics influencing their work.

He currently resides in Bangalore.

The Wrinkles on Grandpa's Shoulder (1989)


The wrinkles on grandpa's shoulder

Are the contoured hills and valleys seen from above.


Riding royal on the elephant,

Clutching grandpa's tuft- the king.


His too rode thus upon his grandpa's shoulder,

Like me,


A few secrets hidden in the pocket of the shorts

Clutching grandpa's tuft- riding

The howdah on the elephant


My great grandfather's ride upon his grandpa's shoulder

Too was similar, in the woods, like mine

Clutching grandpa's tuft- riding

Elephant back



It is the same forest seen every day,

The favorite path,

Won thanks to the forest's benevolence,

Becomes the daily route, the track of truth

As the matted tuft of a sage here,

As the unruly parting on the crown of flora there,

The smooth vermillion path,

The spoor of sloughed snake skin,

The track of tiger's pug mark,

The route of birds' warble.


The feet learns by itself all the turns and twists

As light here, and shadow there

Carrying over hills, endearing,

It too getting worn with the treading feet


In solitude roaming everywhere,

Sure of turning home, though at first

Confused, yet becoming the haven, amidst

A stunted and obscure bush is the easing path,

The wood's secret of the womb where fear hides


The trodden path of the affable eternity.



There is a mango tree there,

Of esoteric taste, of distinct essence

From which drops a fruit, fragrant,

After the squirrel, the bird and the monkey eat their fill,

Whatever is left by fortune has been mine.


The sweet fruit with a sour seed,

A fruit fragrant like camphor,

A fruit that slips entirely from fist to mouth,

A fruit that even now brings water to a fervid mouth

A fruit that had been sucked much.



These are the memories-

The wrinkles on

My shoulder that wish to carry.


Text: Zlatko Anguelov

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