R.K. Narayan is one of my greatest inspirations: Scottish author

By Sreya Basu, IANS,

Kolkata : Scottish author Alexander Mccall Smith, who has written over 60 books, says he owes his success to noted Indian writer R.K. Narayan, whose works inspired him deeply.

Support TwoCircles

“It was my early days as a writer when I came across Narayan’s novel ‘The Man-eater of Malgudi’. I read the entire novel at one go and then got engrossed in his other novels. He is one of my greatest inspirations even today when I sit to pen a new novel,” Smith told IANS here.

“Narayan’s insight, biographical writing style and deeply humane humour not only influenced me as a writer, but gave me immense pleasure as a reader. I am deeply indebted to him. In fact, it’s he who is behind all my achievements as an author,” said Smith, who is here to attend the ongoing 33rd International Book Fair.

The Scottish writer said the toughest part of penning a novel is how to begin it.

“It’s the beginning that is the most difficult part of a novel. Again, it’s after reading Narayan (that) I learnt that after scribbling the first few pages you have to let your subconscious take over. Let the story flow with time and it will take its own shape in the end,” he said.

Smith said it hurt him a lot that there are not too many takers for Narayan’s works nowadays.

“It is sad that not many people in UK and even in India read Narayan nowadays. It hurts me a lot and I feel like thrusting a copy of one of his novels into their hands and make them read it right in front of me,” the 61-year-old remarked.

Apart from Narayan, Smith is all praise for British author J.K. Rowling.

“Rowling has done a wonderful service to literature with the ‘Harry Potter’ series. It’s because of her that children and teenagers, who otherwise stay away from literature, queued up in front of bookshops to buy and read books,” he said.

Smith, however, is partial towards Indian authors.

“Indian writers from the late 1930s till date have achieved a significant place in world literature in English. Be it Arundhati Roy, Anita Desai, Kiran Desai, Vikram Seth or Vikram Chandra – all have proved that they can give tough competition to other foreign writers.

“If Indian writers continue to win all the Booker Prizes and other literary awards, then there will be none left for us,” said Smith jokingly.

Smiths popular books include the “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series, The “44 Scotland Street” series, “The Sunday Philosophy Club” Series and “The Von Igelfield” series. His books have been translated into 42 languages.