translated from the Tamil by Nirmal Rajagopalan
July 7, 2019
The Aayakudi Murders is the latest work of Tamil SFT from Blaft Publications, which previously gave us three volumes of The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction. Aayakudi is a short and fast-paced supernatural thriller that, on the surface, seems to have a simple, straightforward plot: a reporter is sent out to a small village to investigate rumors of murderous ghosts; what he finds is a much more complicated situation involving colonial-era hidden treasure, a criminal network, and the wedding woes of Thenmozhi, the village leader’s daughter.
In fact, Aayakudi brings up deeper questions about the tension between the supernatural and the scientific. While the reporter (Rajendran) at first laughs at the idea that a ghostly presence is going around murdering villagers, he eventually abandons his skepticism due to his own experience channeling the spirits of those who were murdered. With the help of a retired schoolteacher and a police inspector, Rajendran uncovers a plan to dig up the treasure and avoid handing it over to the government, since the village residents intend to use it for their own basic needs.
While some of the plot points can be seen from a mile away (of course Thenmozhi winds up marrying this particular person, of course this main character was actually involved in the treasure ring, etc.), the novel never loses its focus and regularly brings up the dualities of village vs. city, supernatural vs. scientific, and tradition vs. modern.
The addition of a glossary of Tamil terms helps Anglophone readers both understand some basic salutations and traditional references and learn more about Tamil culture. We should look forward to more Tamil SFT from Blaft in the coming years!