Ashok Rajamani

AUTHOR + POET + ESSAYIST + ARTIST + ADVOCATE

poetry + prose

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reader talk
poetry
"words, brewed and unbrewed."
flash fiction
"stories, thumb-sized."
"why on earth would a brown american boy want to be an all-american star?"
essays
"Salman Rushdie uncovers the dream that imprisons."
"How a Drag King and the Carnival Stole the Show in the World's Greatest Poem."
fiction



"A fierce, funny, fascinating memoir of a man's battle back from a brain injury that damaged his body but resurrected his spirit and the meaning of his life."

--Wade Rouse,
Author of "At Least in the city Someone Could Hear Me Scream"


“With piercing prose, Rajamani beautifully captures an experience unknown to most. He reminds us that the body is remarkably adaptable and that new values surface after physical changes occur. The Day My Brain Exploded will take you to new places within yourself—it will leave a lasting imprint in your consciousness."

-Belo Miguel Cipriani,
author of "Blind: A Memoir"



"The story unfolds like a flower blooming. Powerful, hardcore honesty, and humor all make this a book I would recommend to anyone... thanks to Ashok for opening up and sharing so honestly. Shocking, amazing, powerful -- it makes for a superb book."

--Melinda Gustafson Gervasi, author of "Illness, Death, and Taxes for the Middle Class"


“The Day My Brain Exploded is a memoir of epistemology. Ashok Rajamani shares how a man rebuilds a life of the mind. His prose is at once witty and probing, persistent and clear. If the brain could write an autobiography this would be it."

-- Stephen Kuusisto,
Author of "Planet of the Blind"



"Rajamani is clearly a new literary talent to watch:
he deftly mixes dark, Sedaris-like comedy with surreal drama, thus capable of being outrageously funny and seriously courageous (especially when it involves cultural taboos) -- while also remaining emotionally authentic."

-- Jason Michel, Paris, Editor-in-chief, Pulp Metal Magazine
and author of "Confessions of a Black Dog"



"A uniquely humor-filled memoir."

--Open City Magazine


Rajamani’s tale is a memoir describing the course of his life before and his recovery following a rather catastrophic hemorrhagic stroke. It’s full of irreverent rapier wit and artfully written prose, and speaks to a lot of issues that are seldom acknowledged—including life as a second-generation American struggling to assimilate in a society that will never truly accept him, and the stigmas and perceptions that surround afflictions of the brain and mind. Rajamani does his best to underscore the importance of all that with a healthy dose of gallows humor."

--"Time-out-of-life," Tumblr


"Rajamani painstakingly records his advance back into the world through actions, therapy and a very strong will to succeed. Through it all, he keeps a sense of humor, though extremely edgy at times, that I believe is so integral in healing and moving on.
This is a great book. "

-Dew on the Kudzu Magazine


“A confessional book... full of raw stories and dark humor.”

--India Abroad


Rajamani takes you through your own gamut of emotions as you share his story of the event and the therapy and recovery which is continual. You cry. You laugh. You feel pity, sympathy and empathy.
What a diary to be able to read."

--Rebecca Holland,
Author of "From the Nightstand"



"Quite frankly, a miracle."

Joe Donohue,
Host of "The Roundtable,"
NPR/​National Public Radio



"This memoir is so important... for anyone who is suffering a disability, especially a brain-related disability."

David McMillan,
"Strategies for Living" Radio



"An articulate biography written from the heart."

--garamchai.com


"Ashok inspires our community."


-- Craig Sicilia, Washington,
Founder and Director, International Brain Injury Survivors Network

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time-bomb: ashok, age 3

“A new literary talent to watch: Outrageously funny and seriously courageous.”*


2013 inductee


Best Books of the Month Selection**

Booksellers' Picks Selection

Biography Picks Selection



"...good-humored and self-deprecating... deals with drama elegantly."



"First-time author Rajamani delivers a fascinating look at his life and his recovery as a brain-injury patient that is both heartbreaking and uplifting."



"In this frank and witty account of his own brain "explosion," Rajamani describes in vivid detail the circumstances leading to the injury, and its devastating aftermath on both his family and himself, including chronic epilepsy and a freak form of blindness affecting the left side of each eye. With disarming drollery, the author also recounts his racism-tainted upbringing as an Indian American in white-dominated Suburban Chicago. Shedding much-needed light on a little-known medical trauma, Rajamani's sharp-edged prose is both informative and inspiring, especially for the many marginalized sufferers of brain injury and those close to him."



"A pretty wild book."



"Rajamani's account is personal, inspiring, terrifying and funny, finding humour in his situation..."



"... a frightening, raw, droll, and hopeful book about what life is really like for a twentysomething who falls down a rabbit hole but doesn't end up in Wonderland. Instead, he finds a nightmare that won't end without the strength of character that he never knew he had.”



"Extraordinary...very personal."


SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL


"Brilliant and Engaging. Perfect sarcastic humor... a hilarious, irreverent, fascinating Holden Caulfield-esque story of a 25-year-old 'brain-damaged, Indian American redneck.'"



"With a self-deprecating tone that vacillates between humor and anger, Rajamani details the cerebral hemorrhage and the damage it caused. The book jumps back and forth in time, from the “brain explosion” that left him epileptic and partially blind, to his childhood growing up as a first-generation Indian American in suburban Illinois, and to his post-college years working in New York. Rajamani describes what it is like to relearn the most basic of skills — how to walk, to eat, to speak — as an adult. “True, what I went through was terrible and, true, I wasn’t always patient with those around me,” he writes. “But I realize now, looking back, I am one of the luckiest people alive, and in telling my story I am hoping to give a voice to others who were not so fortunate.”



"The hope Rajamani offers is simple yet profound. His wisdom is gained from such clarity as is often borne of catastrophe."



"Rajamani doesn’t hold anything back in his memoir; his honesty is commendable... readers who enjoy raw and unflinching journeys of self-discovery will appreciate his “no-holds-barred” writing style."


Featured Memoir, theatlantic.com, dec. 2012



“It’s a marvel that he survived—most people don’t make it after such traumatic injuries. It’s a miracle that he recovered to write such an eloquent book about his ordeal."


"This memoir is heart wrenching with raw emotion and honesty. After suffering an aneurysm, Ashok Rajamani begins the recovery process with pain, anger, wonder, and discovery. Ashok portrays his experience and rehabilitation with clarity and honesty, which most of us will never endure."

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Namaste. Welcome to the official website of Ashok Rajamani, a new kind of Indian American writer, poet, and artist.



In 2000, at the age of 25, a mighty surprise came his way: due to an undetected birth defect that had been lurking in his brain, he suffered a sudden, near-fatal, massive cerebral hemorrhagic stroke.

At his brother's wedding.

Though surviving, he's been left with lifelong bisected blindness, epilepsy, distorted hearing, erratic transient amnesia, metal staples in his brain, and ultimately, a carved skull courtesy of open brain surgery. The final consequence of his body's very own 9-11? An irreverent and decidedly unconventional memoir about a day that exploded not only his brain, but the world around him. Funny, coruscating, angry, at times shocking, but always revelatory, it takes the reader into unfamiliar territory, much like the experience Alice had when she fell down the rabbit hole.

It's called "THE DAY MY BRAIN EXPLODED: A TRUE STORY," and has been published by Algonquin Books (division of Workman).


Now a proud brain injury rights advocate, Ashok has been a regular host for Brain Injury Radio and is a board member of the International Brain Injury Survivors Network, as well as Subject Matter Expert (SME) for the Brain Injury Association of America.

He belongs to the Authors Guild, New York Writers Coalition, Asian American Writers Workshop, South Asian Journalists Association, and is a nationally recognized poet in Poets & Writers Literary Organization's Directory of American Poets.

His writings and art have appeared in dozens of publications, including Scholars & Rogues, Danse Macabre, 3:AM Magazine, and South Asian Review.
(See "about works/​buy" page for complete list of credits.)

A self-acknowledged Hindu hick, Ashok grew up in a town near a cornfield in Illinois, before fleeing to The Big Apple at the age of 17, where he's lived ever since.

He is a Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of New York University, where he received his Journalism degree with Kappa Tau Alpha honors. He attended Columbia University for advanced cultural studies.

His turn-ons include: Kathy Bates in Misery. His turn-offs include: tomato chunks.


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*Pulp Metal Magazine
**January 2013