Tuesday, November 29, 2011



Noirs: Recently read the book, Delhi Noir’ edited by Hirsh Sawney and published by Akashic Books. It’s a collection of 14 short stories (crime fiction set in Delhi) by different writers. The writing styles of all the authors was fast paced & excellent and I finished the book in a day. Being crime stories, they held my attention.......but the stories did  kill what little innocence/naiveté I had in me!

What turned my stomach the most were the two  themes which recurred often that is betrayal of trust and corrupt cops(corrupt cops is actually just  betrayal again).   I am not even sure if I really 'enjoyed' reading the book ........like  the enjoyment one has while eating a delicious chocolate or listening to a favorite tune.  I was revulsed by the stories but  could not put the book down! As I had been to Delhi  years ago and found the people especially men  behaving  badly(towards women in particular), the stories rang true, which made the stories even more appaling. Every one of those awful stories could actually be true!
For a few days, after finishing this book, Delhi seemed to be  the worst place on this planet with nary a decent soul in it and  I thought that I should never ever go there! Of course, I recovered from this deep sense of revulsion. Daily interactions  with decent people and seeing  decent actions daily will restore one's  faith in humanity pretty soon.


While returning the book, I flipped through the pages and discovered  that this publisher has published a whole lot of Noir books set in other cities too and these included cities I had alreaady visited or am planning to visit. There are at least 30 published and 14 forth coming books including  New York noir, Baltimore noir, San Francisco Noir, Los Angles Noir, D.C. Noir, and even a Cape Cod noir!


I love New York & I love San Francisco and have visited both many times; Same goes for D.C, Havana & Baltimore. I had great times there and never felt unsafe or threathened and found the people friendly, hospitable and helpful.  I am sure as hell, going to face  a massive cognitive dissonance when I read the  noir fiction set in these cities! How am I going to deal with it???

I know I can deal with noir fiction set in Bangalore (not seen a Bangalore Noir yet) my native city ; I know that there is rampant crime in Bangalore now, with corrupt politicians, the land mafia, corrupt police and even corrupt judiciary. I have been a victim of crime in Bangalore and hence a Bangalore noir will not shock me.
 I can deal with noir fiction set in Toronto (this book exists but I have not yet got my hands on it);   but I simply cant imagine dealing with/enjoying noir fiction set in places beloved to children, such as Orlando; or a city I have always loved but never seen such as Paris. My rigidity also prevents me from even contemplating noir fiction set in, say Tirupati .

 But reality tells me that probably these cities too  are fertile grounds for noir fiction!

PS: Since the last two days I have been reading the Haiti Noir. I  am  not going to finish this book. I dont have what it takes to read about such heartbreaking and terrible things people can do !
I am also going to postpone reading the other noir books for now. This book has so depressed me that I now, urgently need something to rebuild my faith in human beings. Maybe I should I read a nice romance with a happy ending. A Wodehouse or a Georgtte Heyer should cheer me up!

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