Crime fiction in India is still elementary. Even though there is a full crime fiction festival in New Delhi now, we are far away from an Inspector Wallander or Harry Hole. But writers like Zac O’Yeah, with his Mr Majestic, and Kalpana Swaminathan, with her Miss Marple-like Lalli novels, do keep the gun smoking. Now, ‘literary’ writer Anita Nair has come out with her second Inspector Gowda novel, Chain of Custody (Cut Like Wound in 2013 was the first). “I live a man’s life through my detective and make him do what I can’t in real life,” she says. Nair’s books are rooted in reality—the latest is a gritty look at child trafficking in India.
James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man will turn 100 later this year. In all his books, the great Irish writer looked unflinchingly at the crude realities of existence and was often put off by pretentious, highbrow art. Once, as he was getting his portrait done, he was irritated by the painter Patrick Tuohy’s talk of wanting to peep into the writer’s soul to put life into the painting. “Never mind my soul, Tuohy,” Joyce told him. “Just make sure you get my tie right.”
In Bina Agarwal’s book review last week, the cover of the three-set book was wrong. This is the right cover. Also, Agarwal is professor of development economics and environment at the University of Manchester and former director, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi.