Ashok Banker

Infobox Writer
name = Ashok Kumar Banker

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birthdate = birth date and age|1964|2|7
birthplace = Mumbai, India
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occupation = writer
nationality = Indian
period = contemporary
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Ashok Kumar Banker (born February 7, 1964 in Mumbai, India) is a novelist and short story writer living in Mumbai, India. He has written professionally since his early teens, and has worked as a door-to-door surveyor for market research firms, a print journalist, columnist, scriptwriter for television series and documentaries, and in advertising.


Ashok Banker worked as a successful freelance journalist and columnist for several years, breaking front-page news for publications such as The Times of India, Mumbai, and cover stories for Outlook magazine, New Delhi. [ [ Ashok Banker] : website.]

Banker is a contemporary Indian novelist often counted among the significant literary names in post-colonial Indian literature. [ [ Postcolonial writers] : Postcolonial Literature and Theory at the Washington State University, Vancouver, Canada, website.] He is also known as a reviewer and commentator on contemporary Indian literature, and as a candid essayist with a particular focus on media hypocrisy in India, and the western racial bias against South Asian writers. [ [ "View from the top : Colours of fiction"] , Banker's views about bias: article at the Times of India website.]

Banker has published in several genres, ranging from contemporary fiction about urban life in India to multi-volume mythological epics, as well as science fiction, fantasy, and cross-genre works. His first three novels to be published were crime thrillers, claimed to be the first written by an Indian novelist in English. They gained him widespread attention and a reputation for being a crime novelist that has clung to him despite his not having written crime novels since, [ [ It’s a Crime: Book Review of The Srinagar Conspiracy by Vikram A. Chandra] ] though he has written short crime fiction, some of which involves characters from the novels. [ [ Flesh Songs: A Sheila Ray story] ] The stories of his "Devi" series are short works featuring avatars of the Hindu goddess Devi, and have appeared in various science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazines.

Three of his novels contain autobiographical elements and are closely related to one another. His first novel (though the fourth published) "Vertigo" is about a man struggling to make a successful career and home life in Bombay (the former name of Mumbai). "Byculla Boy" takes its name from the Byculla suburb of Bombay where he and his mother grew up. "Beautiful Ugly" and the complementary documentary of the same title are a tribute to his mother, portraying the tragic events of her life. [ [ My mother and I: An intensely personal note by Ashok Banker on his film project Beautiful Ugly (Expanded and Revised by Ashok on 22 June)] ]

Having completed a six-volume retelling in English of the Indian epic of the "Ramayana" that has gained him worldwide attention, he is working on a nine-volume adaptation of the "Mahabharata". These are intended to be part of a larger sequence dealing with the major myths of India. "The Krishna Coriolis" is to tell the life of Krishna beyond the "Mahabharata", and "The Ganesa Palindrome" is to be set in the present and far future and focus on Ganesha, Kalki, and the end of the Day of Brahma.

Banker also has plans for "The Epic India" saga, a series of historical novels presenting the last 2500 years of Indian history from the perspective of the Indian people. He's also said to be working on an alternate history series titled "The Indus Saga" set in an alternate world wherein Indian scientists discover the scientific basis for the legendary 'dev-astras' (divine weapons) described in ancient Vedic texts and a group of Indian Freedom Fighters led by Mahatma Gandhi uses the dev-astras to change the course of World War II, gain India's freedom from the British Empire, and make India, China and Japan the dominant world powers by the turn of the 21st century. Another project by the prolific author is a graphic novel adaptation of his "Devi" tales, being developed for a major New York comic publisher.

Another project by the prolific author is a graphic novel series titled "Becoming Kali" scheduled to be published by Vertigo Comics (and not Virgin Comics as mistakenly reported by some bloggers). The Vertigo Comics series is edited by Karen Berger, Assistant Edited by Pornsak Pichetsotte, illustrated by Peter Gross, and is scheduled to begin publication in mid-2008.

Banker was earlier known as a columnist, well-known for his attacks on the celebrity-obsessed mass media. He used to write a weekly column in the Mumbai daily, Mid-Day, called "Cut The Hype", in which, as the column title suggests, he used to deflate several media celebrities as well as mock the media obsession with celebrityhood itself.

He was a prolific literary critic and reviewer, known for his candour and bluntness in reviewing books by Indian authors. His views often veered from the outright derogatory [ [ Derogatory book reviews] : article from the New Statesman website.] to effusive praise. [ [ Book reviews in praise] : article from "Sacred Games:" website.]

He is one of few contemporary Indian authors writing in English to be included in prestigious anthologies such as "The Vintage Book of Modern Indian Literature" [ [ "The Vintage Book of Modern Indian Literature"] : Random House Academic Resources website.] and "The Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature". [ [ "The Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature"] : Pan Macmillan website.]

His unorthodox views include the rejection of all media that is sponsored by advertising or corporate promotion as being 'unreliable' and 'editorially compromised'. According to a note posted on his official website, he is in the process of launching a 'community portal' with free blogs, email, forums, and even an ambitious "Indiapedia" project modelled on Wikipedia, with the intent of furthering information on Indian culture, history, mythology and literature without outside commercial support. More details are posted on his official website [ Epic India] .

He is also said to be working on several film projects, including an untitled film according to the director, Michael Radford (of "1984" and "Il Postino" fame). [ [ Collaboration with Michael Radford] (untitled film): Radford quoted from an article at the "Mumbai News" website.]

He wrote a short non-fiction book about Bollywood entitled "Bollywood: The Pocket Essential" (2001).


His previously published works include:
* "Amazing Adventure at Chotta Sheher" (1992)
* "The Iron Bra" (1993)
* "Murder & Champagne" (1993)
* "Ten Dead Admen" (1993)
* "Vertigo" (1993)
* "Byculla Boy" (1994)
* "The Missing Parents Mystery" (1994)
* "A Mouthful of Sky" (1995-96)
* "Bad Karma" (1998)
* "Brandwarriors" (1999)
* "Bombay Times a.k.a. "Swing City" ("2000)
* "Vortal" (2000-01)
* "The Pocket Essential Bollywood" (2001)

The "Ramayana" series

* "Prince of Ayodhya" (2003)
* "Siege of Mithila" (2003)
* "Demons of Chitrakut" (2004)
* "Armies of Hanuman" (2005)
* "Bridge of Rama" (2005)
* "King of Ayodhya" (2006)

Collected as omnibus volumes

* "Prince of Dharma"
* "Prince in Exile"
* "Prince at War"

"Other works"

* "A Mouthful of Sky" -TV Series created and written by Banker (1995-96) [ [ "A Mouthful of Sky (1995 TV series)"] : website.]
* "Bad Karma" Online serial (first published on Top Write Corner website) (1998)
* "Brandwarriors" Magazine series published in ad magazine edited by Anil Thakraney (1999)
* "Bombay Times" (2000) (a.k.a. "Swing City") Online serial published on
* "Vortal" (2000-01) Multimedia serial published in CD-Rom magazine "Mahazine"


  • "Sunday, article in issue of January 1993."
    # "Society Magazine, cover story titled "Byculla Boy", August 1993."
    # "The Week, cover story, August 1993."
  • External links

    * [ The official Ashok K. Banker website]
    *isfdb name|id=Ashok_K._Banker|name=Ashok K. Banker The official ISFDB listing is replete with errors
    * [ Ashok Banker] at the Internet Book List
    * [ Ashok K. Banker's online fiction] at "Free Speculative Fiction Online"
    * [ Retelling the Ramayana] the Author's Note to the Indian edition of "Armies of Hanuman"
    * [ Two-part interview with Ashok Banker] conducted by gypsyman at Also published at gypsyman's personal blog [ Leap In The Dark]
    * [ Interview with Ashok Banker] conducted by Andy Sawyer at "The Alien Online"
    * [ Biographical profile] published by The Telegraph newspaper, Kolkata (Calcutta)

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