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Emerging Crimewallahs: Modern Developments in South Asian Crime Fiction

Patel, Tanvi. Emerging Crimewallahs: Modern Developments in South Asian Crime Fiction. 2011. University of Washington, PhD dissertation.

Taking its cue from a variety of theoretical approaches including History, Cultural Studies, Postcolonial Theory and South Asia Studies, Emerging Crimewallahs provides a comprehensive study of late twentieth century South Asia crime fiction and demands the reversal of its critical neglect. The project catalogues four prominent South Asian crime writers and highlights their long-lasting contributions to crime fiction and Indian literature.

By comparing Satyajit Ray's Feluda series to Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes stories, the first chapter illustrates Ray's reversion away from issues of colonialism in order to pronounce India's long-standing history, retrain readers to discern India's vast cultural and environmental diversity, and establish Indian literature as separate and distinct from Western counterparts. The Feluda series encourages the youth of India to return to its historical roots and concentrate on educating itself beyond the discourse of colonialism while illustrating the role of literature in generating a national identity. Secondly, the next chapter on Ashok Banker heavily relies on South Asian studies discourses and the historical allusions of the Mumbai Riots. In this chapter, the political and religious shifts occurring in India in the early 1990s become allegories in Banker's Ten Dead Admen and such articulations promote the contemporary notion of replacing Partition discourse with a focus on regional and contemporary problems.

Additionally, the social connotations inherent in Vikas Swarup's Six Suspects are made available through unique formalistic constructions of reader and narrator in the third chapter. It displays Swarup's postponement of traditional crime fiction genre conventions in order to spotlight social problems emerging from rampant self-interest and social malaise of the time. The last chapter, on Aravind Adiga's novel The White Tiger, demonstrates the residual effects of colonialism and capitalism in India's modern state. Adiga's portrayals of the protagonist's hardships insinuate that lower caste workers are still colonized entities ruled by capitalistic regimes and elites, who emulate the restrictive practices of colonial rule. The novel complicates the heavily debated term "post-colonial" and enunciates the devastating legacy of British capitalism.

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