The term “pulp fiction” originated from the magazines of the first half of the 20th century in America which were printed on cheap pulp paper. They were titillating fiction written for the mass audience. The pulp fiction era produced a large range of fiction which went on to influence all forms of entertainment for decades to come. Although the pages in between the covers were a dingy cheap quality, the covers were beautifully decorated with lurid portraits of pretty women and handsome men. The low price of pulp magazines was a prominent factor in contributing to its burgeoning sales and popularity. In India pulp fictions are routinely churned out by popular authors with a large fan-base. Here’s a list of such pulp fiction novels written by Indian authors:
I. Stilettos in the Newsroom by Rashmi Kumar
It is an interesting account of a young 28-year-old woman named Radhika Kanetkar, and her first stint as a journalist in a newsroom in Pune. It is an account which showcases her life as a journalist as she navigates the ups and downs of her profession, and eventually comes to terms with life. In a departure from the usual narratives of IIM and IIT graduates, this novel is one written from the point of view of a journalist, and is therefore a different take on the multifaceted experiences of professional life.
II. The Moving Shadow: Electrifying Bengali Pulp Fiction (selected & translated) by
Translated into English by Arunava Sinha, it consists of a collection of stories written by a range of Bengali authors from India as well as Bangladesh. It contains eight novellas and stories in the genres of crime and horror, with four stories in each. These stories feature detectives, spies, femme fatales, casanovas, and much more. The themes consist of disappearing corpses, scientists who are spies, maniacal murderers, and love triangles among others. These are the finest examples of a long tradition of pulp fiction that has always lurked in dark corners within the hallowed precincts of Bengali literature. Written by brilliant mainstream as well as pulp fiction writers from India and Bangladesh, including Premendra Mitra, Satyajit Ray, Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, Gobindolal Bandyopadhyay and Swapan Kumar, the stories in The Moving Shadow: Electrifying Bengali Pulp Fiction give the reader a dazzling introduction to Bengali noir fiction.
III. Poisoned Arrow by Ibne Safi & Shamsur Rahman Faruqi
A cult of Urdu pulp fiction, Poisoned Arrow by Ibne Safi & Shamsur Rahman Faruqi is the 60th book in the author’s famed Jasusi Dunya series. When a man is killed outside a night club by a poisoned arrow, Colonel Faridi and his assistant, Captain Hameed, are called in to investigate. Their investigation leads them through a world of crime, drugs and spies, larger-than-life villains, mad genius detectives, and beautiful femmes fatales, which are typical tropes of Urdu pulp fiction. The main characters include Finch, a petite Goan, the mysterious Tara, and the criminal mastermind, Doctor Dread.
IV. The 65 Lakh Heist
The 65 Lakh Heist is the first English translation of Surender Mohan Pathak’s fourth novel in the Vimal series. It is one of the most famous books of Hindi pulp fiction which had launched a whole new genre of anti-hero Hindi crime fiction. Published in 1977, the novel is about a man named Vimal who is blackmailed into joining a conspiracy to break into the vault of Bharat Bank at Amritsar in order to loot 6.5 million rupees. The conspiracy is the brainchild of Mayaram Bawa, a veteran vault-buster who is preparing to pull off the biggest heist of his career before he retires from his life of crime. When Vimal discovers that his partners have been lying to him, he finds himself playing a deadly cat-and-mouse game, both with the head honcho of the Punjab underworld and his former partner, criminal mastermind, Mayaram Bawa.
V. The Verdict Will Seek You by Pattukkottai
Movie star Nirmal Kumar is not only a fan favourite, but also a seemingly perfect man. When he starts receiving threats, he initially dismisses them as harmless, but they just don’t stop. With the progression of the tale, he inadvertently gets tangled up in a murder case, and eventually becomes the sole suspect. Will he be able to prove his innocence or will it be too late? Pattukkottai’s The Verdict Will Seek You is guaranteed to be a thrilling ride of betrayal and revenge, and will keep you thoroughly entertained until the end.
VI. Anita-A Trophy Wife by S. Rangarajan
Written by Tamil author S. Rangarajan (who wrote under the pseudonym of Sujatha), Anita-A Trophy Wife is the story of an uneasy relationship between a middle-aged man and a beautiful woman and the power struggle that eventually ensues. A story that deftly balances elements of both investigative and psychological thrillers, it grips you and leaves you entranced. This story acquires a timelessness through being a detective story on the one hand, and a psychological thriller on the other.
VII. The Aayakudi Murders by Indra Soundarrajan and Nirmal Rajagopalan
The book focuses on the adventures of journalist Rajendran, who is lured into the village of Aayakudi by a mysterious letter alerting his magazine to paranormal activity in the foothills of the village. When he first arrives at the village, the place seemed like an ordinary traditional farming village. However, eventually, he finds himself entangled in a head-spinning mystery involving ancient treasure, spirit possession, and a series of gory killings.
VIII. Colaba Conspiracy by Surender Mohan Pathak
It is a Hindi crime fiction novel set in Mumbai. It is more specifically a whodunit that will keep you hooked all the way. Sushmita’s rich industrialist husband is brutally stabbed to death. Sushmita’s stepchildren then accuse her of conspiring with her ex, Jeet Singh to murder their father. Meet Singh takes it upon himself to clear their names and solve the murder mystery.
IX. Socialite Evenings by Shobha De
Shobha De’s debut novel, Socialite Evenings explores the lives of bored, rich housewives trapped in loveless marriages, smug selfish husbands, fashionable parties etc. It is the story of prominent Bombay socialist, Karuna whose marital discord and eventual divorce had left her feeling battered, empty and melancholic. She looks back upon her life and the friends and enemies who surround her. The characters surrounding her include a neurotic woman, Anjali; gorgeous, vivacious Ritu; high-profile editor Varun, with a penchant for young boys; Krish, the pretentious adman, whose wife actively helps him in his extramarital affairs. Scandalous, astute and utterly riveting, Shobhaa Dé’s first novel, Socialite Evenings, laid bare the world of high-society India and changed the face of the Indian novel forever.
X. H.N Golibar’s books
HN Golibar is a prominent Gujarati pulp fiction writer who writes mostly horror and crime thrillers. Also known by his pen name, Atom Golibar, he is the editor of Gujarati weekly, Chakram Chandan. One of his famous novels, Dhummas is a thrilling ghost story about a girl who is lost in the world of ghosts for a while. However, since none of his books have been translated in English, there is a lack of information online.
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