Book Review NZ Shakti

Book Club 2020: Shakti, Rajorshi Chakraborti

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Shakti Novel by Rajorshi Chakraborti

Oh my lord, where to start with this one.

It took me ages to finish, and I really wanted to finish this book sooner rather than later.

Shakti, by the author’s own admission, is a weird book. Its rambling narrative covers merely days but stretches on for e v e r . And ever.

Here’s what I enjoyed about this book;

  • India! I wish more local flavour had been included in the storyline.
  • The modern, feminist heroine Jaya. Her internal monologues are humorous, insightful and provide (rare) historical context into her current situation.
  • The ending! The final, very dramatic introduction of even more characters (there are SO many in this novel which I think is one of its downfalls) is as black and white as it gets throughout the story. And it works. The book finishes well, albeit taking a long time to get there.
  • The politics. Again, I wish there had been a little more time spent on this aspect of Indian life, fleshing out the motives and means of those in charge would have added more depth to the mystical powers bestowed upon selected women.

I felt like I was lost the entire time I was reading Shakti. Not entirely unenjoyable but definitely confounding, fast-paced and I wasn’t sure if half of what I was reading was relevant as it seemed to disappear from the storyline as soon as I turned a page.

In short (from the publicist), if ‘psychic warfare, nefarious deities, right-wing regimes, internecine attacks and the vicissitudes of life in a hectic city’ are your jam, then give Shakti a whirl. Chakraborti is a great writer and I’m keen to read more from this Indian-born novelist who now lives in Wellington, New Zealand.

Published by Penguin Random House, February 2020

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