The language of (female) friendship is what we have left for the next generation: Tamil writer Ambai

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Tamil writer Ambai on writing detective fiction, why men come first in any literary history and the unacknowledged legacy of women’s lives.

At first, the stories in A Meeting on the Andheri Overbridge (Juggernaut, Rs 399) seem like a departure from your usual writing. But you’re actually using the tropes of detective fiction to delve into people’s lives.

I was interested in exploring the complexities of a city like Mumbai. People are always caught up in love or crime or in deciding what the future is going to be like. I thought it would be interesting to have stories with a woman private detective, who is doing routine detective work. It [provides] my character, Sudha Gupta, with many ways of looking at people’s lives.

Have you always been interested in detective stories?

I enjoy reading detective stories. Not crime thrillers as such, but there are certain stories which also have a lot of human elements. The detective fiction of Agatha Christie and even Arthur Conan Doyle, or Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler talk about the human frailties that lead to crime. Read more

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