Thursday, July 8, 2010

Indian Writing in English and the Rise of the Detective Fiction Genre

Via The Hindu

While we are captivated by the doings of Ms. Lisbeth Salander, let it not be said that Indian writing in English is lagging behind in the detective fiction genre. We have Aditya Sudarshan's classic locked-door mystery “A Nice Quiet Holiday,” C.K. Meena's meditation on gender and sexuality in “Dreams for the Dying”, Smita Jain's smart and sassy “Piggies on the Railway” and Kalpana Swaminathan's “Monochrome Madonna”.

“There are more writers working with the genre and more readers engaging with them,” says Karthika V. K., Publisher and Chief Editor, Harper Collins Publishers India.

“Crime fiction might still be a novelty in Indian writing in English but not in regional languages,” says Sudarshan Purohit who has translated master of suspense, Surender Mohan Patnaik's iconic Vimal series from Hindi for Blaft.

Smita says: “The only rules are there are no rules. Having said that, yes, one does try to adhere to the don'ts more strictly than the dos. For instance, an evil twin is a strict no-no in modern crime fiction, so one tries to avoid that. Also the butler must never do it.”

One of the comments at a recent discussion on Swedish crime fiction was about how the whodunit has morphed into the why-dunit. About whether it applies to crime fiction in Indian writing in English, Smita says: “Technology has made the identification of the murderer a certainty. It is much more gratifying, therefore, to concentrate on the why of a crime.”

Meena concurs, saying: “The classic body-in-the-library-butler-did-it murder mystery format has run out of steam. The whydunit seems to have endless possibilities, not only to generate pace and suspense but also to get into characters, issues, history, politics, you name it.”
Read the entire article here.

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