Contrary to popular opinion, mythological re-tellings are the biggest selling genre in the country, says Ashok Banker who has authored eight volumes of the Ramayana Series, Krishna Coriolis series and is gearing up for a 18-volume Mahabharata series.
‘Multinational foreign publishers in India felt earlier that Indian readers would not be interested in reading mythological books since they would have grown up listening to such stories,’ Banker says.
Indian mythology has more selling value when it comes to book market, believes the author.
‘These ancient and powerful tales of our sub-continent are a vital key to understanding the story of India itself.
For me, retelling the ‘Ramayana’, the ‘Krishna Coriolis’ and then the ‘Mahabharata’ was a means to understand the culture of our country’ he says.
Although renditions change each time a story is retold yet the essence remains the same says the author who picks as a case in point the Tamil poet Kamban’s retelling of the ‘Ramayana’ written by Tulsidas and Valmiki.
‘Kamban wrote it as a south Indian story changing the locations to South India, the geography, the flora, the fauna, the garb, the speech, the descriptions, the characters, the castes, the tribes, even changing the story to suit the local customs and traditions’ says Banker.
The author, a former journalist says ‘Sons of Sita’ the finale of the ‘Ramayana’ series published by Wisdom Tree is the closest to his heart.
‘When it comes to mythological story an author has an added responsibility as he can’t ride the horse of fiction which is not based on facts. Hence a considerable amount of detailed research is required,’ he says.
Each book in the Ramayana series have been written in different style. ‘I believe an author must be a virtuoso, capable of adopting the voice and style required by the story, not merely speak in his own voice all the time. That’s the joy of writing!’ he says.
Banker, who has also written books in different genres like crime, science, fantasy, romance etc plans to come up with more such mythological series in future.
‘Mythology is one part of my goal of retelling all the great stories of Indian in my epic India Library, an interconnected collection of books,’ he says.