Indian pulp fiction novels

Pulp fiction novels were so named because they were printed on grainy “pulp” paper, and were usually inexpensive. These works of fiction were a major part of Indian literature. Although more prominent in Hindi literature, they also had a significant impact on Urdu, Bengali and Tamil literature. These novels are now being translated into English so as to reach more people. Full of black magic, soft porn, illicit affairs, scandalous women, daring heroes and hard-boiled villains, these books will keep you entertained for sure! Here is a list of 8 Indian pulp fiction novels or anthologies (translated into English) that you should definitely read.


The Blaft Anthology Of Tamil Pulp Fiction

Rakesh Khanna (Ed.) & Pritham K. Chakravarthy (Tr.)

Pritham K. Chakravarthy has translated several Tamil pulp fiction short stories into English, and Rakesh Khanna edited and published them as an anthology, spread over two volumes. These stories are accompanied by whacky illustrations and interviews with some of the most famous Tamil pulp fiction writers. Featuring villainous robots and sinful starlets, these stories take you through the drug dens and dance bars of Tamil Nadu. Packed with mystery and romance, these noir stories from Tamil pulp fiction are sure to give you a chuckle. If you enjoy these stories, then pick up volume three, edited and translated by Rashmi Ruth Devadasan.

Buy them here – Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3


The 65 Lakh Heist

Surender Mohan Pathak & Sudarshan Purohit (Tr.)

Even non-readers of Hindi pulp fiction are likely to have heard of Surender Mohan Pathak. In this book, Vimal gets roped into a heist and wants to finish the job without getting caught. But when he 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. Pathak’s fourth novel in the Vimal series, The 65 Lakh Heist, is responsible for launching a whole new genre of anti-hero Hindi crime fiction.

Buy it here.


The Moving Shadow: Electrifying Bengali Pulp Fiction

Arunava Sinha (Ed. & Tr.)

Pulp fiction is an integral part of Bengali literature, often featuring murderers, detectives, robots, spies and seductresses. Edited by Arunava Sinha, The Moving Shadow is a collection of electrifying Bengali stories by popular pulp fiction authors from India and Bangladesh. This book, featuring eight novellas, takes us on journeys replete with ghostly tales, romance and mystery, all the while dazzling us with the ingenuity of Bengali pulp fiction writers.

Buy it here.


Poisoned Arrow

Ibne Safi & Shamsur Rahman Faruqi (Tr.)

Ibne Safi is a master when it comes to creating dramatic worlds in Urdu pulp fiction. Poisoned Arrow is number 60 in his 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. You’ll be left biting your nails trying to figure out who the culprit is – Finch, a petite Goan, the mysterious Tara or the criminal mastermind Doctor Dread.

Buy it here.


The Colaba Conspiracy

Surender Mohan Pathak

After the death of Parsumal Changulani, a wealthy tycoon, his children accuse their step mother of conspiring with her ex to murder Changulani. The ex in question, Jeet Singh, sets out to clear their names and solve the mystery. The Colaba Conspiracy is a Hindi pulp fiction novel set in Mumbai and keeps us guessing till the very end. In this Jeet Singh mystery, Surender Mohan Pathak shows us exactly why he is called one of the best authors of Hindi pulp fiction.  

Buy it here.


The Laughing Corpse

Ibne Safi & Shamsur Rahman Faruqi (Tr.)

In The Laughing Corpse (number 62 of the Jasusi Dunya series), Saeeda Rahman, a lowly typist comes into a lot of money once her long-lost uncle bequeaths his entire wealth to her after his death. Her newly-found wealthy status leaves her surrounded by a number of eligible bachelors who clamour for her attention. However, things take a turn for the worse when Rahman is kidnapped during a brawl, and it is now up to Colonel Faridi and Captain Hameed to solve the case. Meanwhile, Doctor Dread and his arch nemesis, Finch, are wreaking havoc on the city.

Buy it here.


The Verdict Will Seek You

Prabakar Pattukkottai & Yogeshwari Sampath (Tr.)

Movie star Nirmal Kumar is not only a fan favourite, but he is also a seemingly perfect man. When he starts receiving threats, he initially dismisses them as harmless, but they just don’t stop. As the twisted tale progresses, he inadvertently gets tangled up in a murder case, even becoming 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.

Buy it here.


Anita: A Trophy Wife

Sujatha Rangarajan & Meera Ravishankar (Tr.)

Anita features Advocate Ganesh, and 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. Rangarajan, one of the most popular authors in Tamil literature, wrote under the pseudonym Sujatha, and Anita is one of his more well-known novels.

Buy it here.

Prasanna is a human (probably) who makes stuff up for a living. When she’s not sleeping or eating, you’ll find her in the quietest corner of the library, devouring yet another hardbound book. She vastly prefers the imaginary world to the real one, but grudgingly emerges from her writing cave on occasion. If you do see her, it’s best not to approach her before she’s had her coffee.

She writes at The Curious Reader. You can read her articles here