Friday, July 01, 2011

Ibne Safi, prolific Indian/Pakistani mystery writer ...

or,

"You do that Urdu you sure do so well"

I don't know about you, but I can't resist a crime novel whose main action begins with a food fight in a night club:
"A couple of screws in Qasim's brain mechanism came loose, and the very next moment a plate full of meat and watery sauce hit the young man in the face."
 That's from The Laughing Corpse, sixty-second of the late Urdu-language crime writer Ibne Safi's 125 Jasusi Dunya ("The World of Detection" or "The World of Espionage") novels about the aristocratic Col. Ahmad Kamal Faridi (an inspector earlier in the series) and his acid-tongued sidekick, Hameed. (The name Qasim may be mere coincidence, but my favorite line from The Thousand Nights and a Night is "Your wit is as heavy as Abu Qasim's slippers!")

 Blaft Publications of Chennai, India; and Berkeley, California; has translated four of the Jasusi Dunya books into English. The Laughing Corpse has its slapstick moments, but it also has a cool, mysterious, manipulative protagonist in Faridi, and a surprisingly caustic sidekick in Hameed. Most of all, Ibne Safi knew how to create suspense and head-scratching mystery.

Ibne Safi began his writing in India in the early 1940s and continued from Pakistan after the partition of British India in 1947. He wrote through the 1970s and died in 1980. Like many pulp writers of the Indian subcontinent, he was prolific. He wrote more than a hundred titles each in Jasusi Dunya and his other main series, plus poetry and satire.

Read more about the author at the Ibne Safi site. Read more about the fantastically broad and colorful world of Indian pulp writing at Blaft's Web site and in the informative editor's and translator's introductions to the books.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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16 Comments:

Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Did Hurree Jamset Ram Singh feature in any of them?

July 02, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hurree Jamset Ram Singh, nabob of the fictional state of Bhanipur, you mean? No nabobs figure in The Laughing Corpse, but I have something over two hundred more to read before I can make any definitive statement.

July 02, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Ah, good
Then everything is so wonderfully plentiful!

July 02, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I had to look up Hurree Jamset Ram Singh to learn who he was. I'm not up on my nabobs, I'm afraid.

July 02, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

You better hurree, then
You've got a lot of catching up to do! :)

Joking apart, the very notion of an Indian crime writer intrigues me
Especially if its verbose as one tends to associate with Indian writers, lawyers, and politicians

July 02, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And a bit of language study to do as well; not many of the books have been translated into English,

You should browse the Blaft Web site. Some of the Indian crime stories share certain features with English and other crime stories. Others do not.

July 02, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Just scanning the free pages of 'Smokewater': it looks to like a typical English 'colonial' style thriller novel of the 1920s-1940s: not that I'm an expert in the field, but it just smacks of the language, and structure

July 02, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

The HJRS reference led me, via Wiki, to this:
http://www.greyfriarsindex.co.uk/Greyfriars/Magnet/pdf/Magnet_0229.pdf
Great old comics featuring the likes of Billy Bunter and his 'chums' of Greyfriars School
I think my late father said he used to read these comics; I read them via paperback books
(published by Armada, I think)

July 02, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, I'm less familiar than some readers will be with English colonial-style thrillers. I will say, though, that a colonial-style thriller from the pen of one of the colonized rather than the colonizers is bound to be of interest, and I don't mean just for political-correctness reasons, either. Such a book is bound to induce reflections on what the Indians absorbed of English culture and made their own. This need not be restricted to cricket.

The books carry a blurb from Agatha Christie to the effect that there us just one original mystery writer, Ibne Safi. I'd be interested in knowing what she meant by that.

In the meantime, Safi's massive popularity demands my interest. As for the book itself, some of the conic set pieces were a bit over the top. But the man could write mystery, and I'll read more of him

July 03, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, I bought one of the Flashman novels today, This may be my introduction to English school stories and their descendants.

July 03, 2011  
Anonymous Mohammad Hanif said...

Hurree Jamset Ram Singh does not appear in Ibne Safi's novels.

Mohammad Hanif
www.ibnesafi.info

July 07, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Who's the colo(u)r consultant for that website, Mohammad?

He/she should be shot!
could make an interesting case for Ibne's intrepid sleuth!

July 07, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Mr. Hanif, though I suspect the questioner may have been joking!

July 07, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I dunno about that, TCK. One man's gaudy is another's vibrant, celebratory and scintillating.

July 08, 2011  
Blogger Saba said...

Im looking for the jasusi dunya collection paperback, does anyone know where i might be able to find these incredible novels in URDU.

Any help would be much appreciated.

April 01, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am willing to buy all novels in hindi written by ibne safi will pay good money including shipping cost. I want to read all.
email me if anyone can help
prashant.humsafar[@][gmail.com]

May 30, 2012  

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