Blogging will be sparse in the next three weeks because of the travelling (and don’t expect any live updates from the Jaipur festival either), so here are a couple of “tidbit” posts.
First, a few books I look forward to in the next three or four months:
- It’s always nice when you can claim an association with a forthcoming book. In this post about a lunch interview with Amitava Kumar, I mentioned Amitava asking me to stop the car so he could take photographs of some “wanted” posters. “I’m becoming very interested in the language used to describe terrorists, and how we are expected to recognise them,” he said at the time, “people who conduct terrorist attacks don’t usually look like stereotypes.” Well, this interest has spawned Evidence of Suspicion, which examines the hidden impact of the war on terror on our lives through interviews with S A R Gilani, Hemant Lakhani and others who have been caught in the eye of the storm. Amitava is one of our most methodical non-fiction writers, and I think he’ll have some insightful things to say about this incendiary – and very relevant – topic.
- One of the great "sleeper hits" in recent Indian publishing was the delightful (and wonderfully well-produced) Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction. The sequel is being published this year and will include a horror story by a Singaporean Tamil writer (you read that right) and a vintage Karate Kavitha adventure comic, among many other goodies. It's one of the books I'll be looking forward to most. Blaft will also continue its English translations (by Sudarshan Purohit) of novels by the enormously popular Hindi crime fiction writer, Surendra Mohan Pathak.
- While on crime writers in translation, the revered Urdu crime writer Ibn-e Safi – author of the popular “Jasoosi Duniya” and Detective Imran series – is also set to be introduced to English readers. Random House India is publishing two books, The House of Fear and Shootout at the Rocks, and Blaft has a series of four Jasoosi Duniya novellas planned. Agatha Christie’s endorsement “I don’t know Urdu but I know about detective novels in the subcontinent and there is only one original writer – Ibn-e Safi” will no doubt be widely used in publicity material. The quote doesn’t have to be taken very seriously – why would Christie know how many "original" crime writers there were in the Urdu-speaking world if she wasn’t familiar with the language? – but these books should be a lot of fun nonetheless.
- The reticent Siddharth Chowdhury (who wrote the excellent Patna Roughcut) returns after a hiatus with Day Scholar, a novel about a young boy from Bihar who joins Delhi University in the early 1990s, as the Mandal Commission and Ram Mandir sagas start to unfold.
- And two of India’s funniest and most popular bloggers, Arnab Ray and Sidin Vadukut, have first books out. Vadukut’s Dork: The Incredible Adventures of Robin ‘Einstein’ Varghese is about a loser who makes it to the top of the corporate ladder, while Ray’s May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss, described as a sarcastic look at Indian popular culture, will supply a “read and weep” strategy for handling terror attacks, discuss what goes into the making of successful TV serials, and attempt a deconstruction of “the NRI who loves his country by staying outside it”. If you don’t already know Vadukut and Ray’s online writings, it’s a good time to get acquainted.
(To be continued)