Rao, Raja 1909-2006

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Rao, Raja 1909-2006


See index for CA sketch: Born November 21, 1909, in Hassan, Mysore, India; died of heart failure, July 8, 2006, in Austin, TX. Educator and author. Rao was one of the most acclaimed Indian novelist of the twentieth century who wrote in English. Born into the elite Brahman caste in India, he lived a privileged life and received a good education. He completed a B.A. from the University of Madras in 1929, then attended the University of Montpellier on a scholarship. He went on to study at the Sorbonne from 1930 to 1933, remaining in France through the 1930s. When war began to threaten Europe, Rao moved back to India, where he was active in the underground movement against the English. From 1943 to 1944, he edited the Bombay periodical Tomorrow, and in 1947 he published his first short-story collection, The Cow and the Barricades and Other Stories. Though writing in English was difficult for Rao, he felt that as a product of the time when India was ruled by the British Raj, it was important to write in that language. However, his writing style was definitely not in the European fiction tradition. Rao's novels and short stories dealt with complex issues of spiritual and cultural identity, including the clash between Western and Asian ideas. During the 1940s and 1950s, Rao lived in both India and France, but he eventually moved to Austin in 1966 to accept a position as a professor of philosophy at the University of Texas. He remained there until he retired in 1980 as professor emeritus. Widely praised for his books, Rao received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1988. Among his other books are the novels The Serpent and the Rope (1960) and Comrade Kirillov (1976), the short-story collection On the Ganga Ghat (1989), and the book Alien Poems and Stories (1983).



Los Angeles Times, July 20, 2006, p. B11.

New York Times, July 15, 2006, p. B10.

Times (London, England), July 18, 2006, p. 55.

Washington Post, July 23, 2006, p. C8.