Jnanpith award winner U R Ananthamurthy, who strode the Kannada literary world like a colossus with his path-breaking works, died of multiple health complications at a private hospital here today.
Ananthamurthy, rated as one of the best writers in the country who won acclaims from critics and fans alike, breathed his last this evening, 10 days after he was hospitalised with fever and infection, the doctor attending on him said.
82-year old Ananthamurthy is survived by his wife Esther, a son and a daughter.
"He had a cardiac arrest. We tried to resuscitate but it was not successful. So we with great regret announce that he is no more with us", Manipal Hospital Medical Director & Chairman - Medical Advisory Board H Sudarshan Ballal told reporters here.
Ananthamurthy, who had been suffering from kidney related disease for some years and undergoing dialysis treatment with diabetes and heart problem, turned critical last night, he said.
"His condition got critical since last night and blood pressure also deteriorated. He was also facing breathing problem, so we had kept him under ventilator..," Ballal said.
Ananthamurthy's wife and children were by his side when the end came, hospital sources said.
In his several decades of literary life, he has won the Padma Bhushan in 1998, Jnanpith award in 1994 and the state Rajyothsava award in 1984.
His nomination for the 2013 Man Booker International Prize brought him to the attention of a Western audience. He was also the Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University in Kerala during the late 1980s.
Karnataka government announced a three-day state mourning and holiday tomorrow for its offices and educational institutions as a mark of respect to Ananthamurthy, one of the seven Kannada writers to get the coveted the Jnanpith honour.
The final ceremonies would be conducted with full state honours in consultation with his family.
Ananthamurthy is considered one of the pioneers of the "Navya (new) movement" in the Kannada literary world. His most famous literary work Samskara (ritual) was made into a film, that was considered a pioneering venture in parallel cinema movement in Kannada.
He has written five novels, one play, eight short-story collections, three collections of poetry and eight more of essays with his works translated into Indian and European languages.
A multi-faceted personality, Ananthamurthy had tried to dabble in politics, unsuccessfully contesting the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha polls once.
Known for socialist leanings, Ananthamurthy often courted controversies for his vociferous "anti-BJP, anti-Sangh Parivar" stance.
His remark in the run-up to Lok Sabha poll that he would not live in India if Narendra Modi were to be elected Prime Minister had stirred up a huge controversy but he later did a U-turn, saying it was made out of emotion.
Earlier, Ballal said Ananthamurthy was on multiple support system including dialysis, support for blood pressure, antibiotics for his infection, and other measures.
"...Anantha Murthy has been unwell for while, he had multiple problems including kidney disease for which he had been on dialysis for the last few years...," Ballal said.
Inspite of his illness, Murthy was very active both physically and mentally including extensive travelling and lot of assignments but in the last 10 to 15 days his condition worsened "to some extent" and was hospitalised, he said.
Tributes have already started flowing in on social networking sites:
Shri UR Ananthamurthy's demise is a loss to Kannada literature. My condolences to his family. May his soul rest in peace.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 22, 2014
The writer, teacher, public intellectual U R Ananthamurthy is no more. Here's my tribute to him from 2012: http://t.co/oZ9qaUy2sk— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) August 22, 2014
RIP U R Anantmurthi, a great intellectual and fearless critic. You will be missed immensely.— S l Habib (@irfhabib) August 22, 2014
UR Ananthamurthy's writings and life's work: http://t.co/MnMa2ml5YG One of our greatest literary icons, and what a rich life he had.— Nilanjana Roy (@nilanjanaroy) August 22, 2014
U R Ananthamurthy reading from Samskara at the 2013 Man Booker International Prize readings. RIP. https://t.co/XgAyguZAxA— Mahesh Rao (@mraozing) August 22, 2014
U.R. Ananthamurthy (1932-2014) passes away. Indian literature loses one of its leading lights and a forthright, fearless voice.— HarperCollins India (@HarperCollinsIN) August 22, 2014
U R Ananthamurthy's interview to RS tv: http://t.co/olsGYelVay— nikhil wagle (@waglenikhil) August 22, 2014
Karnataka's secular-liberal intellectual space infinitely, immeasurably poorer with the passing away of U.R. Anantha Murthy. Rest in peace.— churumuri (@churumuri) August 22, 2014
The U.R. Anantha Murthy interview with Abdul Rasheed for All India Radio. http://t.co/xWGwVPPaJx— churumuri (@churumuri) August 22, 2014
Warm, hospitable person. National treasure. Brave soul who spoke up when others were turning tail & switching sides. RIP #URAnanthamurthy.— Anna MM Vetticad (@annavetticad) August 22, 2014