Michael Gorra teaches English at Smith College. His books include After Empire, The Bells in Their Silence, and, as editor, the Norton Critical Edition of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.
R. K. Narayan was born on October 10, 1906 in Madras, Brtitsh India. He graduated from Maharaja College of Mysore with a B.A. degree in 1930. All of his many novels take place in Malgudi, an imaginary town in southern India that serves as a kind of "golden mean", neither a large, impersonal city nor an obscure, isolated village, through which Narayan explores the dilemmas of modernization. For example, The Bachelor of Arts is the story of a sensitive youth caught in a conflict between Western ideas of love and marriage instilled in him by his education and the still-traditional milieu in which he lives. Malgudi is a microcosm of modern India, and throughout Narayan's novels, which span more than 50 years of India's growth, we can watch Malgudi's inhabitants evolve in precisely the same way that their hometown does. Narayan's wit and literary skill have made him a favorite with readers all over the world. He died of typhoid in 1939.