Books

Tamil pop fiction comes to the fore with ‘The Aayakudi Murders’

Blaft Publications, synonymous with quirky tomes, has two new offerings: one, a translation of a Tamil pulp fiction novel, another, a mathematics book that centres every question around dinosaurs

A damsel in distress, ghosts, murders, conflict between rational thought and superstition: These are all elements that carry the stamp of Inder Sounder Rajan’s work, says Nirmal Rajagopalan. The Chennai resident’s book, The Aayakudi Murders, a translation of the best-selling Tamil popular novelists’s book has recently been launched by Blaft Publications.

The Chennai-based publishing house that is now synonymous with quirky tomes — most of them with a distinct Tamil flavour — is back with two new offerings, The Aayakudi Murders and Math Problems with Dinosaurs, by Rakesh Khanna. The first, a supernatural crime thriller, is a translation of one among the hundreds of novels written by Indra Sounder Rajan, a man well-known for his short stories and screenplays of hit Tamil megaserials like Marmadesam, Sivamayam and Rudraveena.

The novel belongs to the genre of pop Tamil fiction, that has been the focus of Blaft’s publishing project. They have also been publishing translations of pulp and popular fiction from Asian and African languages, from countries such as Pakistan and Nigeria. They also have a special interest in comics and graphic novels. Explaining Blaft’s choice of literature, Rashmi Ruth Devadasan, the co- founder owner says, “When we began Blaft Publications in 2008, Indian writing in English was very different from that in regional languages. It tended to be literary and high-brow. There was a gap in the market for light reading. At the same time, there was a wealth of pop literature in regional languages that was lost to English reading audiences. We wanted to bridge this gap.”

The first volume of the Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction was an effort in this direction. The popularity of this resulted in them publishing two more volumes of this anthology. “Most Indians are bilingual and trilingual but they may not necessarily be able to read in those languages. The idea is to make these books accessible to them,” says Rashmi.

As for The Aayakudi Murders, they chose that particular novel because “it is solidly crafted and structured, uses language skilfully and is an absolute page turner,” she says.

Dino maths

Also published by Blaft, is Rakesh Khanna’s Math Problems with Dinosaurs. was co-launched at the event. Blaft Publications is into experimental fiction for the most part, and this book, although not fiction, seems to fit the “weird” part of the bill, says Rashmi.

Tamil pop fiction comes to the fore with ‘The Aayakudi Murders’

Redefining what we expect from a typical math book, Math Problems with Dinosaurs reads like a love child of paleontology and mathematics. So you have passages describing various kinds of dinosaurs in vivid detail, and then you find math problems based on those same details. Like the jacket of the book describes, it is for people who “love dinosaurs and love math, love dinosaurs and hate math (but need to practice), love math and do not know enough about dinosaurs and are frequent time travellers”.

The author, Rakesh Khanna holds mathematics degrees from the University of California at Santa Cruz and the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has been a math teacher, tutor, content editor, and curriculum developer for over 20 years. Though he has always been interested in paleontology, Rakesh began reading seriously on the subject a few years ago in order to keep up with his dinosaur-obsessed six-year-old son. “A lot of math educational products have a generic and corporate feel, and that makes it hard to spark real interest in the subject. I’ve been coming up with high school mathematics problems for years for work, so when I started reading a lot of academic papers about dinosaurs, it seemed natural to merge the two subjects and try to do something a little different,” says Rakesh.

Both books are available on Amazon and the Blaft website, www.blaft.com.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 6:17:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/tamil-pop-fiction-comes-to-the-fore-with-the-aayakudi-murders/article28685727.ece

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