Recently, a kind guy who loves icecream, called Vishav, contacted me for my point of view on the rise of detective and crime thrillers in the English language space. The result was a really good article collating thoughts of authors like Kishwar Desai who is spearheading the first Crime Writers Festival in Delhi later this month and Juggi Bhasin. While giving the interview, I pondered on many things and had two surprises.
One was a rather straight one, the fact that the paper used a photograph of mine, on the same page as author Anita Nair and Mukul Deva. (Proof of arrival on scene, below. Oo.)
The second was a more insidious surprise. While giving the interview, I realised that not many Indian English authors had given this masalafied fiction to their readers before. Crime fiction, thrillers, mysteries and murders have always been popular with readers. What can compare to reading a cozy murder mystery with a cup of tea in one hand? So why hadn’t Indian authors explored the genre much before? Mind you, this is true only for Indian English and not for other Indian languages which have so much of what I call the pop-masala genre.
I feel in the last decade, there’s a new level of comfort that the Indian author has in her own style of writing, like wearing chappals and walking on pothole-filled streets in crime fiction. That of being comfortable in their own identity, their own experience, in their own chaotic cities, confused traditions and in their own unique style of crimes as well as crime solving. And this being comfortable and exploring Indianness in novels seems to be happening not only in crime fiction but also across genres in the country – be it high literary, historical fiction or romances.
On the other hand, readers want to read books about things that they experience, in the English that they speak or write, stories that they hear from their grannies and friends. Desi crime fiction, written in desi style with desi detectives as main protagonists.
About a few years ago, because there weren’t any really established thriller writers in Indian English (the other Indian languages have always been doing racy thrillers), readers had to look abroad for their thrill fixes. But now thankfully for both readers and authors, that is fast changing. I love the current range of thrillers, murders and mysteries that I can find as a reader in the market. I think this is bound to increase. No more can booksellers tag all authors under the vague ‘Indian author’ category. Nowadays readers are demanding all sub-genres in Indian english writing and authors are more than happy to provide it.
What do you feel? Comment below!