Ismith Khan was born in Trinidad in 1925. He grew up within a Muslim family, who came from the country to Port of Spain, strongly influenced by his grandfather, a Pathan from Northern India, who was a militant community leader who had been shot and wounded by the colonial authorities in their suppression of the San Fernando Hosay rebellion of 1884.
Following the publication of the semi-autobiographical The Jumbie Bird, came The Obeah Man (1964), which was adapted as a play for the BBC. The Crucifixion (1987) was his third book, published by Peepal Tree Press.
After leaving Trinidad in the 1960s, Ismith Khan lived in New York until his death in April 2002.