Skip to content

How Many of these Indian Fantasy Authors Do You Know?

Fantasy authors and novels are not part of the Indian literary mainstream. This is a generally accepted reality amongst most readers as well. As an experiment, walk into a book store next time you happen to find one. Make a list of the books that catch your eye.

At first, you will find pretentious autobiographies of disgruntled politicians, bureaucrats, and other ‘important’ people. Then, you’re likely to find many shelves stacked with books that will tell you how to live your life.

How likely are you to find The Simoqin Prophecies by Samit Basu in the first bookshelf you see? The chances are low. This little experiment shows how far Indian fantasy novels and authors are from the literary mainstream.

However, there is no reason to lament. Literature has a weird way of becoming relevant at odd times. Fitzgerald drank himself to death before The Great Gatsby became the best book of the twentieth century.

Full disclosure, I am not advocating for Indian fantasy writers to become alcoholics. If this generation doesn’t recognize a book for its quality, maybe the next one will.

Fantasy Authors in India

To grow the fantasy genre in India, our readers must first know the protagonists of fantasy literature in the country. Moving forward, we will discuss some Indian fantasy authors readers should consider reading.

Samit Basu

At the pinnacle of Indian fantasy literature stands Samit Basu. I must confess I am a big fan and there is little chance I can avoid talking about him when discussing fantasy writers of India.

Samit is the author of The Simoqin Prophecies, quite possibly India’s best fantasy novel. His work extends beyond the Game World trilogy. More recently, he announced his latest book, Chosen Spirits. The book is available in e-book form.

Image Credits : Wikipedia and Goodreads

If you’re someone who enjoys high fantasy with all its varying elements, Samit is the kind of author you should read. His Game World trilogy mixes themes of Eastern and Western mythology, reintroduces old fantasy tropes, and creates new original fantasy elements.

Beyond all the highfalutin talk about Samit’s work, here is why you should give him a shot – there will never be a dull moment.

As readers grow older, they begin to discount the absolute delight of reading something truly original and interesting. Like watching a movie, reading a book is inherently a leisurely exercise. As an author, Samit seems to have a fundamental grasp over this simple concept of writing.

Devaki Nandan Khatri

The fact we had a pioneer in fantasy writing like Devaki Nandan Khatri is evidence of the deep roots of literature in India. Khatri wrote the extraordinary novel Chandrakanta, an epic that can stand its ground against any modern piece of fiction.

Published in Hindi and now also available in English, Chandrakanta tells the tale of a trapped princess waiting to be rescued. From this commonly found premise, Khatri weaves a tale bringing together themes of honor, chivalry, politics, and love.

Image Credits : Wikipedia and Amazon

During his time, Khatri was a very popular novelist and had a very loyal cult following. Besides Chandrakanta, he penned several other books such as Bhootnath, Kajar Ki Kothari, and so on.

If you find trouble reading in Hindi, most of Khatri’s works are available in translated form. However, I would recommend you read the Hindi version and as a consequence polish some of your Hindi reading skills. Furthermore, the original Hindi version captures the rich essence of the story Khatri is trying to tell.

Sami Ahmad Khan

I hated the expression ‘edge of the seat’ thriller. Then I read Aliens in Delhi and learned to appreciate the phrase. For this uniquely thrilling experience, I tip my hat to Sami Ahmad Khan, the author of the masterpiece.

Image Credits : Goodreads

Khan’s expertise in science fiction and fantasy writing cannot be explained by his Ph.D. in science fiction alone. Unlike many other contemporary Indian fantasy authors who call upon high fantasy elements and surrealism, Khan grounds his story into a more realistic setting.

While its commonplace to trace every SF author back to legends like HG Wells, Khan’s style of storytelling truly replicates the magic of Wells. Like Wells, Khan ensures that the fantastical elements don’t dictate the narrative. Instead, the characters and the plot are the centerpieces of the story.

Amish Tripathi

One of India’s most popular writers, it is impossible to write about Indian fantasy authors without mentioning Amish Tripathi. His devotion to Indian mythology has led to its renaissance through fantasy literature.

Starting with the Immortals of Meluha back in 2010 to his most recent work, Legend of Suheldev, Tripathi has made an effort to bring up untold stories from India’s rich ancient past. His place in the pantheon of great Indian writers is now absolute.

Image Credits : Wikipedia

As a writer, Amish’s success lies in his ability to tell his readers something original and interesting. Just as is the case with Samit Basu, Amish also ensures he keeps his readers glued to the narrative. Many writers lose vision and end up concentrating on trivial matters while writing fantasy. This is evident in many modern examples of writing where writers grow too fond of their own voice.

Amish doesn’t fall into any such traps and this makes him one of the greats of this generation of Indian fantasy authors. This is why he manages to keep readers coming back to read his work. To make a low-attention span generation excited for new books is a laudable achievement. To keep Indians interested in reading, the literary domain owes Amish and others like him a great debt of gratitude.

Final Words – Indian Fantasy Authors you Should Consider Reading

This piece on fantasy writers in India is an effort to help readers identify some great authors in our country. When compared to the West, Indian literature is always seen as inferior.

While there is some truth to this perception, there is also truth in the fact that many top writers in India do not get the recognition they deserve. For instance, a literary genius like Manu Joseph would otherwise find much more recognition in the West as a contrarian intellectual.

Again, we are not here to lament. Instead, through pieces like these, we wish to bring some great authors to the attention of readers.

Also read: What is Speculative Fiction?
Also read: Ten Speculative Books You Should’ve Already Read

3 thoughts on “How Many of these Indian Fantasy Authors Do You Know?”

  1. Thanks for this article. Khatri is so underrated, and so misunderstood – especially after the DD serial that really did no justice to him. I have translated the original Chandrakanta in English, in the hope that more readers enjoy this wonderful writer’s work. Following is the Translator’s Note I penned:

  2. Thanks for this article. Khatri is so underrated, and so misunderstood – especially after the DD serial that really did no justice to him. I have translated the original Chandrakanta in English, in the hope that more readers enjoy this wonderful writer’s work. Following is the Translator’s Note I penned:
    ‘Chandrakanta’ has been categorized broadly as a romance and a suspense thriller that makes old-timers such as my adorable grandparents smile with nostalgia. In Virendrasingh and Chandrakanta one can visualize the quintessential hero and the heroine. Kroorsingh and Shivduttsingh together form the darker side of the drama. Tejsingh and Chapala, Devisingh and Champa furnish the sub-plot. A plethora of other characters presenting varying shades of valor, loyalty, camaraderie and devotion serve to make ‘Chandrakanta’ an absorbing read indeed.
    Chandrakanta’s story describes for readers the quaint, old-world charm of kings and queens, their wealth and luxury, their traditions and beliefs, glories of a culture lost in time. Readers will approve the light in which Khatri showcases his heroines – giving them a dash of independence and immense fortitude, often letting them outclass their male counterparts. Readers will also appreciate the modern, scientific outlook of Khatri, who refused to acknowledge black magic and ghosts in a superstition-ridden 19th century India and attempted to explain the fantastical aspects of his tale using engineering, architecture and technology.
    The locations described in Chandrakanta are real, set amidst nature in modern day Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in eastern India. Here roamed a young Khatri, in the forests of Naugadh and Chakia, getting inspired to create a plot that resonated instantly with the masses. Many of these locations such as the forts of Chunar, Vijaygadh and Naugadh and the dense forests of the Chandraprabha Wildlife Sanctuary are preserved till date, open for tourists.
    If the popularity of the Indian television series based but sketchily on ‘Chandrakanta’ and ‘Chandrakanta Santati’ is anything to go by, its English version will find wide readability. It is the translator’s hope that readers are gained, and not lost in translation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.