Over on her blog, writer Anna Tambour reviews The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction, which we’ve mentioned here before. It’s a great collection, and we’ll be running an exclusive discussion with the publisher, translator and hopefully a couple of the contributors in a forthcoming feature. Meanwhile, check out the review:
Matchmakers abound, as do parents’ wishes and the social demand for dowries, but love can sometimes conquer all. Female detectives work in an environment that is no Ladies Detective Agency. Here, they literally kick arses and knock out baddies with karate chops. Pattukkottai Prabakar’s wildly popular Susheela wears tight T-shirts with slogans like “PLEASE SEARCH ON THE OTHER SIDE” on the back, which incites her working (but not yet bed) partner to say “This T-shirt wasn’t meant for someone of your build. There’s no need to search for something as obvious as lorry headlights.”
One of the joys of this collection is that, while the basic motivations, tragedies and humour are as universal as the capacity to love, oppress, betray, and laugh, no story here could be reset as say, the Office tv series has, from Britain to the US, nor is any story here self-consciously of “the Indian experience”, that excruciating stuff cooked up especially by US-college-educated literati to order, the butter chicken of lit.
Being unselfconscious and written only to the expectation that it is genuinely readable by someone who is not expected ever to study it, these stories (bar one) take place in settings that are very different to some homogenized West, though there is also drug addiction, bought cops and judges for the bribing. But as with the vigilante movement in the stirring “Matchstick Number One” by Rajesh Kumar (great movie stuff!) in which the family relationship is both touching and non-transposable, these stories work where they are. And it isn’t just their exoticism that makes them so attractive to escape into. These are damn fine stories that smell fresh, even the ones by the youngster, Prajanand V.K., who has read his Holmes but is really an understudy to Rajesh Kumar (who has several stories in this book. the bio reads: “Rajesh Kumar may well be the world’s most prolific living writer of fiction.). – read the rest of the review.