“The Hachette Book of Indian Detective Fiction”

Classic whodunits have the beloved Satyajit Ray’s Feluda, one of the best-known detectives in the Indian subcontinent. It is only fitting that the anthology opens with him.

Soni Wadhwa in the Asian Review of Books: Detective fiction in the West is often grouped with crime fiction and thrillers; but in detective fiction, the focus is on a puzzle and the process of solving it. It’s a game with the reader in which a mystery needs to be unraveled before the detective figures it out. In some places, the detective becomes a figure of interest in himself—detective figures have been, traditionally if less so at present, more often than not, men—a complex personality whose story is interesting and deserves an independent treatment of its own. It is a genre that solves problems, finds answers, holds the culprit accountable: all very attractive attributes for those who just like a good story.

To this genre, Indian writers bring a depth of cultural context, making the genre more about societal constructs of crime, power, and inequalities of caste, gender, and so on than about a straightforward resolution of a problem. In order to archive the diversity of this form in India, literary critic and translator Tarun K Saint has produced a two volume anthology titled The Hachette Book of Indian Detective Fiction which brings together writing both in English and in translation (from Tamil and Bengali). It includes some well-known names such as Bengali author and filmmaker Satyajit Ray, the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, the internationally-renowned Vikram Chandra, and a number of diaspora writers such as Vaseem Khan. Apart from compiling varied pieces in this collection, Saint shapes it as a fine introduction to Indian detective fiction in the form of short stories.

The stories are grouped under five categories, two of which are standard subgenres: classic whodunits with amateurs as detectives and police procedurals. The other three are: experimental or parodic detective fiction; speculative or fantasy detective fiction; and historical mysteries.

Classic whodunits have the beloved Satyajit Ray’s Feluda, one of the best-known detectives in the Indian subcontinent…

More here.