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  • Published: 18 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9780143773900
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336


Your Power. Our Rules.

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.

‘[Chakraborti] will fascinate readers who enjoy Haruki Murakami.’ – Booklist, USA

'Chakraborti possesses the gift of good storytelling.’ - The Telegraph, India.

  • Published: 18 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9780143773900
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336

About the author

Rajorshi Chakraborti

Rajorshi Chakraborti is an Indian-born novelist, essayist and short story writer. He was born in 1977 in Calcutta, and grew up there and in Mumbai. He has also lived and studied in Canada, England and Scotland, and now lives with his family in Wellington, New Zealand.

Rajorshi is the author of six novels and a collection of short fiction. Or the Day Seizes You was shortlisted for the Crossword Book Award in 2006, one of the best-known prizes for English-language writing in India. Mumbai Rollercoaster received an honourable mention in the Children's Writing category of the Crossword Book Awards, 2011.The Man Who Would Not See was longlisted in the fiction section of the 2019 Ockham Awards.

Also by Rajorshi Chakraborti

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Praise for Shakti

[SHAKTI] takes the reader through the lanes of Calcutta, keeping one hooked the entire time. It deals with three very strong female characters . . . who come from very different backgrounds and the thrilling way their paths cross . . . . A gripping tale, it becomes even more relevant in the current socio-political scenario of the country.

The Telegraph, Calcutta

A star has come down amongst us. In 2010, acclaimed Indian writer Rajorshi Chakraborti moved to Wellington. It was very much our gain. . . . This magical realist fantasy is also a sharp satire on the murky depths of Indian political corruption. It is an uproarious assault on the nexus of politics and the media, where corruption is the order of the day. Like a cross between Aravind Adiga and Haruki Murakami, it can be funny, shocking and deeply thought-provoking. . . . a bold new move in New Zealand fiction.

Steve Walker, Sunday Star-Times

It's a novel which teems with people and events and possibilities and it's a very dark world that's portrayed in which right-wing nationalist politics are making lots of trouble in which people carry around trauma, which they have either suffered or inflicted, and that's set in this context of a very energetic narrative . . . it's immersive and draws you in which is compelling and incredibly fun to read but starts to feel chaotic and out of control, which has both advantages and disadvantages in the reading experience , , , It's a great read, the prose is excellent, it sweeps you along, it's immersive, it's really fun, the energy level is fantastic, it leaps off the page . . . worth reading.

Louise O'Brien, Radio NZ

Rajorshi Chakraborti’s latest novel Shakti has the strength of characters and an irresistible pace to its advantage. His unforgettable heroines unfold a tale of courage fighting the darkness that they are doomed to, and a journey across a country in the throes of profound transformation.

Financial Express, India

If you could have any super power, what would you choose? What would you do? Indian-born author and Wellington resident Rajorshi Chakraborti has a go at answering that question in his darkly witty new novel, Shakti. Channelling Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami, Shakti is a fable about power in the hands of the marginalised. . . . It's a book that's constantly shapeshifting, from dry comedy to ghost story to dark conspiracy thriller. . . . Superheroes in comics and on screen are very much still a mostly white, male crowd. Shakti's spotlight on three Indian women provides a new and much-needed diverse spin on the genre. . . . In the end, Shakti exerts a strange power, even if the story doesn't neatly tie together at the end (which practically begs for a sequel). Chakraborti gives a voice to India's forgotten women and a wish for the powers to change things.

Nik Dirga, Weekend Herald

Within the first few chapters of the book, we are confronted with gender stereotyping, suicide, class prejudice and sectarian violence. These issues do not abate, but Chakraborti’s skill as a writer and storyteller keeps you hooked, juxtaposing these serious concerns with wry asides, almost soap opera moments and absurdist situations. In this way, this book reminded me of Aravind Adiga’s award-winning The White Tiger. . . . Shakti will shake you up, mystify you and make you laugh, as well as frighten you with its clear reflection of our current socio-political structures and our willingness to accept or dismiss these intrusions into our minds, as well as our hearts. Place Shakti at the top of your ‘to read’ pile.

Stella Chrysostomou, Volume Books Review

Trying to summarise the plot is a bit like trying to summarise the Mahabharata itself ... A wild, exhilarating ride of a book.

North and South

This is a novel that is woven together by countless layers of plot, character and metaphysical mystery. The setting is modern India and the story follows three female heroes who appear to have been given an amazing gift [...] The stories of the three women meld into a kaleidoscope of relentless action and ... interaction, speeding up through the rest of the novel.

Latitude Magazine

It is all told with a light touch. Chakraborti maintains a sardonic humour throughout, even as the novel deals with heavy political themes. The narrative careers along, while Chakraborti also impressively manages to draw a detailed social environment. . . . the novel almost shifts from being magical realism (which a number of critics have already pointed out) to straight realism. However, in a global environment where religion and narratives of exceptionalism are being manipulated by fascist wannabes, it’s potent stuff.

Brannavan Gnanalingam, Landfall Review Online

As we follow Jaya, we experience a deeply misogynist society, where all men are predators: the father, the neighbour, the doorman, the grocer … And all women have experience of abuse, of themselves or those around them - and many carry the guilt of having ignored the abuse of others due to fear for themselves or their situation. Poverty leads people to do horrendous acts and provides a layer of scapegoats for those better off. In the past Jaya has ignored abuse around her in fear of losing privilege, even spending a period ingratiating herself with her abusive father. In the past Jaya has also done unspeakable things to protect those around her. But has Jaya been given a power now due to her ability to ignore evil, or due to her once being a perpetrator of it? And what political role is she being asked to play? Is it as part of a conspiracy to align Bengal to the right? What will be her reward?

Alyson Baker, Nelson Public Libraries

Magical realism in a disturbing political thriller, told in a confessional first person voice . . . 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.

Karen Chisholm, Austcrime

Rajorshi Chakraborti is one of the most interesting and exciting voices in New Zealand literature at the moment; a superb novelist, essayist, and short story writer. Rajorshi grew up in Calcutta and Mumbai and now lives in New Zealand. . . . His latest novel Shakti is a supernatural magical realist mystery thriller set in India, that delves into the murky and dark waters of modern Indian politics in a carefully chosen, considered and unique fashion.

Wellington city Libraries, Literary Blog

Discover more

Shakti book club conversation starters

Rajorshi Chakraborti shares discussion points, ideas and questions for his new book Shakti in this book club guide. 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.

2020 summer picks from the Penguin NZ team!

Here at the NZ office of Penguin Random House we are huge readers – it is definitely one of the perks of the job that we get access to so many books! Luckily across the team we have a wide range of interests so, for example, if we want to know what all the fuss is about with a big debut international crime novel, our crime fiction enthusiast Becky can read it and share her thoughts on whether it will work for NZ readers, our Naomi can spot the next big thing in young adult fiction, and so on… here we present you with a few of what we’ve truly loved over the summer.

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