Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kumari Loves a Monster / குமாரியின் ராட்சச காதலன் is here!

After many delays, Kumari Loves a Monster / குமாரியின் ராட்சச காதலன் has finally arrived from the printers in all its hot-pink-and-gold-foil beauty.

Check out some of the sample art from earlier postsOrder the book online now or look for it in bookstores later this month! Tell your friends about it! Also, admire this awesome picture of the author and illustrator in front of a huge fearsome Jurassic reptile!

Shyam and Rashmi


Friday, April 30, 2010

Tamil Pulp Fiction Vol. II is Here! and other fun stuff

Hot off the presses!  Buy your copy of The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction Vol. II, selected and translated by Pritham K. Chakravarthy, from the Blaft website here!

If you're not a credit card/paypal type, but you live in Chennai, come by The Madras Terrace House and pick up your copy.  You can even pick up some nice threads on sale while you're at it.  Or, if you're not a fashion-plate sort of person, you can get your very own barrel of slime.

(By the way, if you live in Chennai, you should also go to Besant Nagar on May 2nd to see the Perchalis perform a very very very good trilingual play called "Ki. Ra. Kozhambu" based on Ki. Rajanarayanan stories.  Unlike this story, the play is wonderfully appropriate for children.)

If you want a copy of Tamil Pulp Fiction Vol. II and you're not a credit card/paypal type and you DON'T live in Chennai, you're going have to wait till the book makes its way to your local bookstores. You can speed up this process and make us very happy by going to ALL your local bookstores once every couple of hours and demanding, politely but firmly, that they stock hundreds of copies. If they don't already get Blaft books you can tell them we're distributed through Westland. Try to meet the books buyer and offer him or her tasty homemade snacks while you make your polite but firm demands.

While you're waiting for the book to arrive, you can read Kuzhali Manickavel's brainmeltingly fabulous latest story at this strange and wonderful online magazine called Diagram. We find Kuzhali's writing to be an excellent sort of tonic against the yucky stomach feeling you get when you realize what a terrible horrible mess the human species is making of the world.

Take care all.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Swedish Crime Fiction: The Renewal and Redefining of a Literary Genre

If you are in Bangalore on Wednesday April 21 at 6.30pm, don't miss this event at the Crossword Bookshop, Residency Road, Bengaluru.

Håkan Nesser, author of the internationally bestselling series about Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, that include titles such as The Mind’s EyeBorkmann’s Point, and Woman with Birthmark (Pan Macmillan); together with Zac O’Yeah, author of the forthcoming Once Upon A Time In Scandinavistan (Hachette India).

The readings will be followed by a unique panel discussion on modern crime fiction, featuring literary critic Sudarshan Purohit as a moderating panelist.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Kumari Loves a Monster: Sneak Preview Part 2

[Update: The book is now here!  Click here to buy!]

When we blogged about Kumari Loves a Monster a few weeks ago, there were some requests for one more of Shyam's illustrations featuring a lovely nattu kattai / fearsome monster couple.  Here you go:

The book is being printed this week and will be in stores, and available on our web site, very soon.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Historical Tamil Novels of Chandilyan: Cover Art by Latha

by Rakesh

Back in 2007, when Pritham Chakravarthy and I first started looking for material to include in The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction, one of the authors we looked at was historical novelist Chandilyan (சாண்டில்யன், sometimes Romanized as Sandilyan). Pritham decided against including him, for several reasons (he's not really pulp--gets published in hardcover these days; the novels are really long; the action unfolds slowly, with a lot of elaborate flowery description and romantic banter which is really really hard to get sounding smooth in translation.)

We both sort of wish we could have done it, though. Pritham remembers that her mother read Chandilyan at home, but kept the books off-limits for her--"too racy", it seems. So naturally she read them as soon as she got the chance. She also remembers meeting the author a few times when she was young. I myself have been keen on learning more about the novels because

a) The author seems to be a perennial bestseller. Even though they're 50 years old, the books are still available in virtually every bookshop in the state (including some online stores, here for example). There's also a fair amount of blog discussion about the books.

b) The historical setting is really interesting, something that English readers have hardly been exposed to.

c) the covers are simply *drool*. Most of them are apparently done by an artist named Latha, about whom I know nothing except that he or she is totally awesome. Check out this hardcover for the novel Rajathilagam.

(I love the way the author/title information spills off the spine... I don't think I have seen this on any other book. It just about forces you to pick the thing up when you see it on a shelf.)

Chandilyan's novels typically feature a pseudo-historical Tamil hero, together with an exotic foreign beauty, embroiled in the tangled political intrigues of the Asian age of empires. There's a very popular one called Yavana Rani about a Tamil trader's love affair with a Greek queen, and then there's Kadal Pura, about a Chola general and a Javanese princess. It's fun to see Asian heroes get to do the exotic-Bond-girl thing. It's also interesting that while Chandilyan's protagonists are all these hardcore Dravidian braves, the author himself was a staunch Iyengar Brahmin.

(The office of Chandilyan's publishers, Vanathi Pathippagam, in T. Nagar has a beautiful selection of the original paintings by Latha and Maniyan Selvam used for these covers, all around the walls of the main office, about 9 feet off the floor.) 

Don't it look fun? Hopefully this stuff will come out in translation one of these days. Pritham even has a few chapters already done we may try to post as an excerpt somewhere soon.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Indian Music Therapy for Pets

Sometimes, you just have to buy a CD based on the cover alone.

 The liner notes are a treat, too.  Actually the first track on the disk is just a recording of the good doctor reading this. Priceless.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Erin Hunter Doesn't Exist!!!! by Shraddha

Guest blogger Shraddha delves into the world of warrior felines...

Erin Hunter Doesn't Exist!!!
by Shraddha

Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry and Victoria Holmes, all of whom are experienced children’s book writers, get the real credit for writing the ‘Warriors’. Victoria comes up with the story idea and Cherith and Kate take turns in writing them. They all live in the UK and have come up with the single name Erin Hunter to avoid confusing their readers.

For generations, cats have been living in the forest together in four clans: Thunderclan, Windclan, Riverclan and Shadowclan. These cats live according to the warrior code of life set down to them by their warrior ancestors. The kits that are born in each clan are kept in the nursery. Then once they are six moons old they become apprentices. The apprentices are mentored and as they become bigger and better warriors they are given their warrior name. The cats can also choose to become a medicine cat which means that they would have to look after a sick or injured cat. They would also be talking to starclan (their warrior ancestors) and taking messages and advice from them if they were a medicine cat. Each clan has a leader and the leader chooses a deputy to succeed him or her.

The Warrior series begin with a kittypet (house cat) called Rusty. Rusty has always been fascinated by the forest and one night he is discovered in the forest by some clan cats. He is accepted into Thunderclan. Rusty easily adjusts to the warrior way of life. Then, the warrior code is threatened and this ordinary house cat may be the one to save them all. This book is followed by five more, all of in which Rusty—now called Fireheart—is the main character.

Then there is the next set of the Warrior series which are called, Warriors: The New Prophecy. Here Erin Hunter introduces the next generation of cats. She then sends one cat from each clan on a journey that is guided by their warriors. After the chosen cats complete their journey and come back they find the other cats weak and starved.Then all the clans have to come together to go find themselves a new home.

The next set of six is called Warriors: The Power of Three. This set of books is about three young cats who learn that there is a prophecy about them that could make them the most powerful cats that have ever existed. As they grow into young warriors they unravel secrets about themselves and the clan beyond their imagination.

There are Warrior super editions which are not part of of any of the sets. Then there are Warrior mangas too. If you would like to learn more about the codes and the ways of the clan there are Warrior field guides to help you.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Lord Edgware Dies: Book Review by Shruti

Back in December, we asked our neighbours -- the very awesome 12-year-old bookworm twins, Shruti and Shraddha -- to write book reviews on their latest favorite reads.  They responded right away and we have been inexcusably slow about posting their writeups. Without further ado, here's Shruti's piece on Agatha Christie's Lord Edgware Dies. Shraddha's writeup on the Warrior series will follow tomorrow.  -RK

Lord Edgware Dies

book review by Shruti

Lord Edgware Dies is written by Agatha Christie. Around the world, Agatha Christie is known as the ‘Queen of Crime’. She has written many books on murder mysteries. Lord Edgware Dies is a book full of mystery, murder, and suspense.

Lord Edgware Dies is about a lady who seeks a divorce with her husband. Her husband refuses over and over again until the lady says out loud that if she had the chance she would kill him. She asks the Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, to discuss the matter with her husband, Lord Edgware. Hercule Poirot agrees to do so. When he meets Lord Edgware to everybody’s surprise Lord Edgware says that he has already agreed to the divorce in a letter about six months ago. Poirot tells Lady Edgware (Jane Wilkinson) and she too is surprised about the letter but is very happy.

A couple of days later Lord Edgware is found murdered. Poirot starts working on the case. The first suspect is of course Lady Edgware, as many people heard her say she wanted to kill her husband so that she could really be free of him. But things get even more confusing when another murder occurs. Clues found show that the victim, Carlotta Adams, probably murdered Lord Edgware, but probably is not good enough for Poirot. He continues to look for clues and suspects. 

All the clues, the murdered body, the place where the murder takes place, it is all given in such detail that you can see it like in a movie.

All through the book Poirot gathers information and facts and puts all the bits and pieces together and discovers the murderer. Even though we are also given the same facts and information as Poirot we have not been able to solve the murder. I recommend this book to people who like mystery and murder. Lord Edgware Dies is a book worth reading.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Kumari Loves a Monster: Sneak Preview

Here goes: A sneak preview of two of Shyam's illustrations from Kumari Loves a Monster (a romantic picutre book featuring beautiful South Indian girls with boyfriends who are horrible gruesome monsters. Concept and text by Rashmi Ruth Devadasan. Releasing next month.)

[Update: The book is now here!  Click here to buy!]

Cool no? We are excited.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Back in the World of the Living: Tamil Pulp Fiction Vol. 2

by Rakesh

So, yeah, we were a little ambitious when we started this blog thing, claiming that we'd have "weekly invertebrates" and all.  It's now been 7 weeks since the last post and 10 since the last invertebrate. And we still don't have another invertebrate ready.  I suppose we will rechristen them "Quarterly Invertebrates" or "Trimesterly Invertebrates" according to when we get back into it.

Been busy. Had a good trip to Delhi for the World Book Fair, where the Daylight Robbery launch went off well, and to Bombay for Kala Ghoda, where we did a couple of other events. In the process we managed to get India's crime fiction king Surender Mohan Pathak a flurry of English-language press writeups: see here and here and here and here. There were a couple of Hindi newspaper writeups as well but I'm not sure if they're online.

Also been hard at work finishing up The Blaft Anthology Tamil Pulp Fiction Vol. 2, which will go to print this week and should be on bookshelves in India in April.  Here's the cover (thanks to Shyam and Malavika.PC.):

Final table of contents:

The Palace of Kottaipuram by Indra Soundar Rajan
Highway 117 by Pushpa Thangadorai and Jeyaraj
Hold on a Minute, I'm in the Middle of a Murder by Indumathi
The Hidden Hoard in the Cryptic Chamber by Medhavi
The Bungalow by the River by M. K. Narayanan
Hello, Dead Morning by Rajesh Kumar
Sacrilege to Love by Resakee

We've got another book due out in April too... Kumari Loves a Monster by Rashmi Ruth Devadasan and Shyam. Sneak preview coming in the next post.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy Pongal!

Happy Pongal everybody!

A few things of note:

Tonight is the opening of an exhibition of Natesh's drawings, when this key sketch gets real tongue is fork hen is cock, at the Madras Terrace House at 7 pm. Besides the awesome art there will be gun-shaped cookies (Natesh says, "If you can't solve a problem, eat it") and koothu music. Address and more info here.

SANGAMAM: If you're in Chennai and you haven't been to a Chennai Sangamam show yet, you're missing out.  Last night in Kodambakkam there was an amazing string of performances by two phenomenal Thappattam groups... I am not sure of most names, as the Sangamam program seems to bear little relation to what actually goes on stage, but one was P. Raja's group from Panayur, and another was from Andhra... man were they good.  Full acrobatics and human pyramids while dancing and pounding beats.  There was also Dollu Kunitha from Karnataka (loud and wild with heavy bass drums), a very interesting Thavil - Nadhaswaram - Urumi - Bembi group from Thirunelveli (mighty strange grooves), a fabulous Villu Pattu performance, a 5-year-old Silambattam expert, fire-eaters, and finally--live and direct from Thanjavur--"கிராமிய இசைப்புயல்" (the village-music cyclone) Chinnaponnu Kumar, who was in full voice and awesomeness.

 P. Raja Panayur Thappattam Troupe
at Corporation Ground, Kodambakkam, Chennai

On FRIDAY a lot of the same people are (according to the schedule--I hope it's reliable this time) performing in Perumbur at the Corporation School Play Ground, Thiru-Vi-Ka Nagar. After Chinnaponnu, Grace Karunas will be singing.  Terrific line-up and not to be missed.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


by Rakesh

We had a house guest recently who was suffering from some, uh, personal plumbing problems, and I had occasion to remark at the sheer genius of the Sat-Isabgol box.

I mean, look at those fonts!  Look at that telephone! Have you ever seen such a beautiful package design in your life?

Here it is again in Hindi from the other side of the box:


Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Appalam

"Vocal Chanting" from the next Tamil Nadu Superstar

From his relatively low Youtube view counts, it seems that not nearly enough people are hip to the infectious dance grooves of Tamil Nadu's very own Wilbur Sargunaraj. Please dig the following videos, then go forth and spread the word.