“Controversial, hauntingly beautiful and gripping, it is a novel one must not hesitate to dive into headfirst.”


I am a scholar-novelist. I write in different genres because the word is supple and powerful, sometimes more powerful than the sword.


Explore to learn about my writings and presentations.


The Hindu reviews my most recent novel GHOST IN THE TAMARIND!

 “S. Shankar captures well the rigidity of caste hierarchy in the countryside. . . . [T]his novel of forbidden love is well-crafted. It is also timeless.”


Roundtable at South Asian Literary Association Annual Conference
Challenges of Literary Invention: Writing in English What Is outside English
Followed by evening reading from GHOST IN THE TAMARIND
SUNDAY, JANUARY 6th 2019, 3:45 – 5:15 pm
Wilde Room, Wit Hotel, Chicago


Why Naipaul Is Not Great: A True (non-Kantian) Appraisal of a Literary Career Now Ended

I first read Naipaul in Malaysia as a teenager. I would check out his books from the library of the club to which my family belonged. I recognized the world that Naipaul described in early books like A House for Mr. Biswas and Miguel Street, though I had never been to Trinidad, from where Naipaul hailed. I had grown up in Nigeria and India, before coming on a prolonged visit to Malaysia, where my family was then living. Naipaul’s fictional world was sort of Hindu, yes, but what made it recognizable was the perceptive treatment of ambition in the midst of postcolonial scarcity. This theme of desire confounded by material circumstances is universal and early in his career—very early in his career—Naipaul explored it with some insight.

…. Read More…


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“S. Shankar’s Ghost in the Tamarind is an impressive achievement–a conscientiously woven narrative that concurrently takes into account two inviolable principles and attempts to find a balance in between: the truth as well as the invasive and often violent finitude of perspective. If the answers to history’s problems always arrive too late, a phrase I borrow from the novel, how should the history of the present be narrated in the agonizing interregnum between an unbearable present and an inconceivable salvific future? Relying on history not just as back drop but as its very backbone, Shankar’s novel creates a credible world whose realism is critically mimetic of its own conditions of possibility.”

–R. Radhakrishnan, Chancellor’s Professor, University of California at Irvine

NOW AVAILABLE for purchase!!

Shankar Ghost Cover

Ghost in the Tamarind is a novel that must be read not just for its historical sweep but also for the power of storytelling.” (Nalini Iyer in the International Examiner)

“The narrative is rich with memorable characters and moments, along with a beautiful, sensual flow of language.” (Foreword Reviews)

“Subversions, transgressions, and transcending boundaries are at the center of Ghost in the Tamarind, and Ramu, a Brahmin with a revolutionary heart, is a fitting protagonist. One of the novel’s many pleasures is its seamless weaving of historical contexts, all the more impressive for its range, from the nineteenth century to the 1970s.” (Samrat Upadhyay)

“S. Shankar has created an ambitious and moving novel that traverses several crucial eras in India’s history. He has masterfully woven into it the lives of Ramu and Ponni, the heroic yet very human lovers who struggle against the bonds of colonialism as well as the prejudices within their own communities that threaten to destroy them.” (Chitra Divakaruni)

CASTE AND LIFE NARRATIVES, a special issue of the journal Biography, I co-edited with Dr. Charu Gupta of the University of Delhi is now out! Click below to go to the Project Muse site!

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Videos of My Public Lecture and my Interview with Dr. Vida Robertson at the University of Houston (Downtown). From My Visit as 2016 CCRS Scholar-in-Residence.

In Summer 2016, I was invited by H. Nikhila of English and Foreign Languages University in Hyderabad, India, to record an interview on Film, Translation and Myth for the multimedia journal Caesurae. The interview was conducted before a live audience on the campus of the English and Foreign Languages University. Go here for the interview.

The images above and at the bottom of the page relate to my novel GHOST IN THE TAMARIND.




  1. Thanks for a marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you’re a great author.
    I will make certain to bookmark your blog and may come back
    in the foreseeable future. I want to encourage
    you continue your great writing, have a nice weekend!


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