A New Homegrown Anthology Is Aiming To Capture The Wild World Of Gujarati Pulp Fiction

The Blaft Anthology of Gujarati Pulp Fiction will showcase a selection of fast-paced novellas and short stories from the 1920s to the 2010s, translated into English for the first time.
The Blaft Anthology of Gujarati Pulp Fiction will showcase a selection of fast-paced novellas and short stories from the 1920s to the 2010s, translated into English for the first time. Blaft Publications

Pulp fiction, those sensational stories churned out on cheap paper, might not seem like the most highbrow influence. But in India, these fast-paced narratives with their lurid plots and daring heroes have played a surprising role in shaping popular culture.

Just like today's paperbacks, pulp novels in India were cheap, accessible, and perfect for a quick escape. From the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, Hindi pulp fiction thrived, spilling over into other languages like Urdu, Bengali, and Tamil.  These stories, often dismissed as mere entertainment, were packed with action, suspense, and a healthy dose of the forbidden.  Black magic, scandalous affairs, and daring heroes battling villains fueled by greed or revenge kept readers on the edge of their seats.

The significance of pulp fiction goes beyond entertainment value. These stories served as a platform for exploring social issues in a way that mainstream literature might not. They tackled themes of love, betrayal, and social inequalities, all wrapped in a thrilling narrative.

Even today, the influence of pulp fiction can be felt in Indian cinema, particularly Bollywood. The larger-than-life heroes, the damsels in distress, and the clear-cut fight between good and evil all have roots in those early pulp narratives.

The legacy of pulp fiction extends beyond Hindi. Regional languages like Tamil and Gujarati also boast their own pulp heroes, with stories being translated into English for a wider audience.

Now, thanks to Blaft Publications, a treasure trove of Gujarati pulp fiction is poised to enthrall a whole new audience through the magic of translation. Gujarati, spoken by over 70 million people in India, contains a rich literary variety with acclaimed poets and novelists whose works have found international acclaim. These best-selling novels, penned by prolific Gujarati authors, have remained largely inaccessible to English readers.

Blaft's upcoming anthology, 'The Blaft Anthology of Gujarati Pulp Fiction', aims to bridge this gap. This curated collection will showcase a selection of fast-paced novellas and short stories from the 1920s to the 2010s, translated into English for the first time. The anthology promises to be a visual and narrative treat, featuring not just captivating stories but also original illustrations and a dazzling gallery of vintage cover art in a 16-page colour plate section.

Leading this exciting venture is Blaft, an independent publishing house based in Chennai, India. Since its inception in 2008, Blaft has established itself as a champion of translated pulp fiction. Their impressive track record includes anthologies of Tamil pulp fiction, a standalone Tamil supernatural thriller, Pakistani detective novels, and even a Nigerian romance novel.

Vishwambhari S. Parmar, the translator at the helm of this project, hails from Baroda, Gujarat. Her journey began in 2021 when she approached Blaft as an intern, brimming with enthusiasm to explore the world of Gujarati pulp fiction.  Parmar's passion shines through in her plot summaries and translated samples, which quickly convinced Blaft that she was the perfect collaborator for this groundbreaking anthology. They started on a thrilling exploration, delving into a treasure trove of Gujarati pulp, reading, researching, and discussing stories that promised to transport readers to a world far removed from the ordinary.

Parmar's own encounter with Gujarati pulp was a revelation. A stark contrast to the moralistic novels she was accustomed to, these stories offered a glimpse into a world where betrayals and deceit thrived, often with surprising outcomes. This dark and wild side of Gujarati literature ignited a spark in Parmar, a desire to delve deeper and share these hidden treasures with the world.

The Blaft Anthology of Gujarati Pulp Fiction challenges the perception of Gujarati literature as solely focused on highbrow themes, and instead, offers a glimpse into the thrilling underbelly where stories pulsate with action, suspense, and a touch of the forbidden.

Pre-order your copy here.

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