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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Those who enjoyed "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" may be interested to know that a new foreign bestseller is headed to America.

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Unidentified Man #1: Suddenly, a trickle of blood began to flow from a crack in the stone tomb.�How could fresh blood come out of a tomb built in 1977?

INSKEEP: A few lines from "Hold on a Minute, I'm in the Middle of a Murder." It's part of a collection of Indian pulp fiction that's been translated from Tamil into English. Commentator Sandip Roy has all the details.

SANDIP ROY: Tamil has always been the language of high culture in India. Its literature is 2,000 years old, and its poetry exquisite. But some of the most widely read stories in Tamil have titles like "Sweetheart, Please Die."

You see these books everywhere in India. The covers are lurid - mustachioed men menacing women in tight nurse's uniforms, knives dripping blood, and lots of cleavage.

Rakesh Khanna, a Californian living in India, wanted to find out more about the stories. So he hired a translator. Now they've put together volume two of "The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction."

Indian pulps have been around since the early 20th century. They borrowed freely from American dime novels and�British penny dreadfuls. But because this is India, there are also kings, ghosts, and mythological serpents.

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Unidentified Man #2: One of the mob stepped up with a flower garland, ready to put it around Visu's neck. Woven into the strands of flowers was a cobra.

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ROY: It's "Eat, Pray, Love and Kill" for 10 rupees, about a quarter. The translator of the American collection, Pritham Chakravarty, told me they were considered so racy, her mother hid them away in a cupboard. Luckily her school bus driver had a stash.

The sex isn't really very explicit. But the detectives are often unmarried couples, so there's room for lots of banter in between murders.

Unidentified Man #3: Archana shook her head in disappointment.�Her pallu fell off her shoulder and Visu's gaze swooped down to her chest like a jet landing on a runway. Archana followed his look and adjusted her sari.

Unidentified Woman #1: I can't even let it slip a bit, eh?

Unidentified Man #3: She giggled.

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ROY: It's mostly suggestive. As one pulp writer said, exposing a navel is sexy. Spinning a top on it is vulgar. And the pulp writers are no top spinners -these are solid, middle class, respectable Indians.

Pritham remembers one meek old woman who let her husband do all the talking, even when negotiating rights to her books. She made coffee, switched off the stove, and took her granddaughter to dance class. Just a typical gray-haired grandma, until she picks up her pen.�

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Unidentified Woman #2: A picture formed in her imagination: Gunaseelan lying in an ornate bed, surrounded by liquor bottles and a harem of scantily-clad women. She began trembling.

ROY: That's from "Dim Lights, Blazing Hearts," coming soon to a bookstore near you.

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INSKEEP: Commentator Sandip Roy is an editor with New America Media.�And you can read some Tamil pulp fiction yourself at NPR.org.

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