Kannada writer UR Ananthamurthy, who stirred controversy early this year when he said he would prefer leaving India if Narendra Modi became prime minister, died on Friday evening aged 82.
Born on December 22, 1932 in Shimoga Ananthamurthy was also a recipient of the Jnanpith Award in 1994 and was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1998.
He was also one of the finalists for the British Man Booker International Prize in 2013. His ooks include “Samskara”,”Bhava”, “Bharathi Pura”, and “Avasthe”, all written in Kannada. He was considered one of the pioneers of the Navya movement in Kannada literature.
Condoling his death, President Pranab Mukherjee said: “Nation will always remember Ananthamurthy’s invaluable contribution to literature.”
His remarks on Modi hit the headlines during the Lok Sabha polls and when Narendra Modi did become Prime Minister, he retreated his statement saying it was made in emotion.
However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condonences at the demise of the writer in a twitter message saying, “Shri UR Ananthamurthy’s demise is a loss to Kannada literature. My condolences to his family. May his soul rest in peace.”
Meanwhile, Karnataka government has announced 3-day state mourning as mark of respect to UR Ananthamurthy.
Ananthamurthy’s career started as a professor in 1970 in English department of University of Mysore and he served as the Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, Kerala from 1987 to 1991. He was later Chairman of National Book Trust India for a year in 1992 and became the president of Sahitya Academy a year later.
He served as a visiting professor in many renowned Indian and foreign universities including Jawaharlal Nehru University, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, University of Iowa, Tufts University and Shivaji University. Ananthamurthy served twice as the chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India. In 2012 he was appointed the first Chancellor of Central University of Karnataka.
Ananthamurthy has participated in seminars as writer outside the country. He was the member of the committee of Indian writers and visited the erstwhile Soviet Union, Hungary, France and former West Germany in 1990. He led a delegation of writers to China in 1993.