Ananthamurthy's works were translated into several Indian and European languages. His main works include "Samskara","Bhava", "Bharathi Pura", and "Avasthe". He also wrote several short stories besides a number of novels, some of which were made into Kannada movies. Beginning his illustrious career as a English professor at Mysore University in the state's cultural capital, during the early 1970s, he went on to become vice-chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University at Kottayam in Kerala from 1987 to 1991.
Ananthamurthy also taught at many Indian and overseas universities, including Jawaharlal Nehru University and University of Iowa in the US. The novelist was elected president of Sahitya Academy in 1993 and served as chairman of National Book Trust in 1992. He was also twice chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India at Pune.
In his last official post, Murthy was the first chancellor of Central University of Karnataka at Gulbarga in the state's northern region.
Controversies dogged Murthy till recently, as he had threatened to go to Pakistan if Narendra Modi became the country's prime minister though he denied it later, saying he was misquoted by the media.
Condoling the death, Prime Minister Modi said: "U.R Ananthamurthy's demise is a loss to Kannada literature. My condolences to his family. May his soul rest in peace." Chief Minister Siddaramahaiah mourned Ananthamurthy's death. The national flag on all government buildings across the state will be flown half mast during the mourning period till Sunday. "There will be no celebrations and entertainment programs during the mourning period," the state government said in a statement.