Published by st martin's Press: 2010
Raj Chakraborti, internationally renowned novelist and commentator, beloved and controversial in equal measure, reviled and resurrected periodically for his ever-shifting opinions, has disappeared from public view. What's worse, the police want to question him about a murder; he was the last person to have met the young journalist who was later discovered dead on her doorstep.
Then his editor receives a package of papers in which Raj claims to explain his part in recent events and his reasons for not surfacing. The material includes chapters from his latest work of fiction about a serial killer turned hired assassin. Is Raj right to believe that he is being hunted, or is it his past that has finally borne down to haunt him? Where does life leave the larger-than-life, and how does power destroy its pursuers?
At once a multi-layered mystery, a novel of ideas, a satire exploring the place of the writer within contemporary life, and a love story that unfolds in three parts, Shadow Play presents a world where you have to discern the shadows from the ghosts, the paranoia from the persecution, and the fiction from the actual.
Shadow Play was originally released under the title Derangements by Harper Collins India in 2008.
You can read a short essay by Rajorshi about the writing of Shadow Play (Derangements), and an adapted excerpt of the novel.
Reviews of shadow play:
"A teasing, haunting jigsaw puzzle, less a thriller than a provocative meditation on the intersection of fiction and memory." - Kirkus Reviews, USA.
"Shadow Play is ambitious and challenging metafiction; [...] it will fascinate readers who enjoy Haruki Murakami." – Booklist, USA.
"Derangements confirms Chakraborti as an ambitious writer, bravely traversing vast spaces, literal and metaphysical, committed to developing original structures and ideas. His latest work demands much of its reader, but generously rewards the careful, drawing us into a strange colourful world where mystery, murder, masters of the universe, and magical cats all feature." - Edinburgh Review, U.K.
"Rajorshi Chakraborti's first novel Or the Day Seizes You, published in 2006, was one of the freshest debuts by an Indian author in years: its urgent narrative unnervingly blurred the line between dream-life and waking-life as it told the story of a man who had lost his bearings. [...] His follow-up Derangements is even more ambitious, and its structure more complex. [...] Like his first novel, this is a book of vignettes, full of hallucinatory imagery. [...]
"Chakraborti is among the most interesting writers now operating in Indian fiction. He deals with dark and subversive ideas un-selfconsciously and shows the willingness to stay away from safety nets. Derangements [...] has a haunting, lingering quality that few writers can achieve." - Tehelka Magazine, India.
"The storyline moves forward with an amazing pace that keeps you hooked. [...] It is the fictional author's attempt to convert real into surreal and the killer turning reality to make a fictionalised world that will give you the high. And [...] the wife's narrative... (is) the final challenge that the author has handled majestically.
"This book will linger for some time. It is possible that you may fall into the author's trap of questioning or even disbelieving the world around you, only to realise that your imaginary abode is equally brutal." - Hindustan Times, India.
"The images, descriptions are cinematic. [...] The language in Rajorshi's books glides smoothly, the twists and turns between reality and a fictional dream like haze. [...] Rajorshi talks of exile, of journeys, that everyone is haunted by a past, 'losses and scars [...] struggling to survive until they can come home'." - The Hindu, India.
"Derangements could work perfectly well on the level of a mystery or crime novel and would satisfy most people without the multi levels of fiction – but that isn't enough for Chakraborti. [...] In the best books, the reader does play his or her part in the interpretation of the story and this is something that Chakraborti keeps in mind. He asks only that readers meet him half way with an open mind and an element of trust. The clues are there but the fact that they are there, doesn't mean you have to follow them." - Lothian Life, Scotland.
"Derangements has a hallucinatory flavour. There's a constant sense of paranoia and urgency and memories, both real and imagined, which makes the title most apt." - Time Out, Mumbai.
"A strange, gripping tale of metamorphosis [...], a riveting tale [...], a compelling page-turner."
- Asian Age, India.
"Read it twice, maybe thrice. [...] Chakraborti demands energy. There are hallucinations and there are deliberations that the reader must navigate through. [...] A point that must be illustrated about Chakraborti is that his experience as an Indian man in England is not the stuff of run-of-the-mill diaspora literature. And that is where his real charm lies." - Man's World, India.
"Indian-born Rajorshi Chakraborti, who teaches creative writing at the University of Edinburgh, takes the reader on a dizzying journey that relies not on geography, though it moves from Calcutta to London to Brazil, but also on the intricate interplay between the twin stories he tells. […] The two segments tend to merge and tangle in mind-bending fashion." - Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, USA.