[2018-12-26] “Tamil Pulp Fiction: Volume 2”

“Tamil Pulp Fiction: Volume 2” is the second in the “Blaft Anthology Of Tamil Pulp Fiction” series of anthologies published by Blaft. I had read Volume 1 earlier in the year — this volume is fairly similar, except for having longer stories. Similar to the first volume, the stories in this volume have been selected and translated by Pritham K. Chakravarthy (and have been edited by Rakesh Khanna). Once again, it includes cover-art from various Tamil pulp-fiction books as well as short biographical notes on each of the featured authors. However, this volume didn’t quite work for me and was a disappointment on the whole.

The first novella, “The Palace Of Kottaipuram” by Indra Soundar Rajan, was fairly gripping. Because it was originally published as a series in a weekly magazine, one chapter at a time, each chapter ends in a cliffhanger in order to maintain the interest of the reader in reading the next issue of the magazine. This gives the plot a cadence that some people might find irritating, but it worked pretty well for me — I couldn’t put down the book until I had finished this novella.

Quite unfortunately, the book rapidly goes downhill from there with the rest of the stories varying from being merely bad to being utter garbage. There are a couple of very bad horror-stories thrown in that just promote mindless superstition, as if this was not a bad enough problem for the country. There is a story with a bad plot presented as badly-drawn comics. You can immediately visualize some of the stories as the scripts for B-grade or C-grade movies. I kept going from story to story in the hope of finding another one that could redeem this volume like the first one, but in the end it was just all bad throughout the rest of the book.

It is one thing to romanticize the genre of regional pulp-fiction, quite another to then go on to pick some very bad examples and hold them up as “literature”. Surely this genre deserves better exposure than this disaster of a sampler. Disappointed.

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