Shakti, Rajorshi Chakraborti
Magical realism in a disturbing political thriller, told in a confessional first person voice, SHAKTI is not the sort of novel that you'd normally expect to show up in the list for a crime fiction award, but if the Ngaio Marsh Award has shown me anything over recent years it's to expect the unexpected, and go with it.
A story of women, their courage, their struggles and secrets, set against a backdrop of right-wing, nationalist politics, this is about three Indian women who find themselves dealing with a great gift, and the consequences of that. What if the greatest gift you ever received came from those you trusted least? What if it stained your hands with blood, but also turned you into a hero? Are your fundamental beliefs coming from a god or a demon?
Needless to say, not a straight-forward thriller, the magical realism aspects of this novel are very high on the agenda, but as a form for exploring human reactions in the event of darkness, threat and unexpected transformation. The thriller aspects of the novel come from the constant tension that is felt in the epic good versus evil battle that's going on - this time without the super-hero's or the overt villains, instead SHAKTI is often an internal battle, conducted against a Faustian background, with the hand that holds the triggers not always obvious.
Not my usual reading to say the least, SHAKTI was utterly compelling, intriguing, and odd - in a good way.
Special powers are gifted, but there is a Faustian price to pay in this epic novel, packed with laughter, darkness, pain, dreams, superpowers, love and light.
What if the greatest gift you ever received came from those you trusted least? What if it stained your hands with blood, but also turned you into a hero? What if giving it up was not an option?
Amid a climate of right-wing, nationalist politics, three Indian women find themselves wielding powers that match their wildest dreams. There is one catch: they come with a Faustian price.
With unforgettable heroines and at an irresistible pace, Shakti unfolds a world of as much courage as there is darkness, and a journey across a country in the throes of transformation. A hitherto unseen country, made up of the secrets, longings, wounds and strengths of many human hearts.