Title: Shadow Play
Author: Rajorshi Chakraborti
Release Date: July 20, 2010
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Famed author Raj Chakraborti is missing, and the only thing there is to explain his disappearance is this manuscript, left for his editor. Told in alternating chapters that vary between an autobiography and a thriller that seems to be fictional, this is the tale of a man on the run, whether because he’s hunted or crazy is unclear.
I do not even know how to begin to review this book. The description above alone took me a ridiculous amount of time, just because I’m not entirely certain I know what this book is about. This was one of those books in which I constantly felt like I was missing something. I know there is more to understand, just out of my grasp, and if I read it again, I’d probably pick up much more. This was a book I felt like I muddled through, half blind.
This book has been described as “Kafka-esque” by the publisher, and I’d say that’s accurate. It’s twisted and confusing, with strange occurrences around every turn. There are two alternating stories, and while one seems like fiction and the other like non-fiction, it’s not entirely clear which is true. As a result, the reader must make their own deductions to try and understand what is happening. By giving the main character of the novel his own name, the author has successfully blurred the lines between fact and fiction. It really shows how talented of an author Chakraborti is.
Though this novel is billed as a mystery and was put out by a mystery imprint, I wouldn’t really classify it as such. To me, it’s much more literary fiction with a mysterious twist. There are puzzles around every corner, and the overarching story is indeed a mystery, but the nature of the novel and devices used are so literary that I couldn’t see it as any other genre.
I realize this review is sketchy, and I apologize. I really feel like I need to do another close reading of this book in order to fully understand it and appreciate everything the author was trying to do. I did like it enough to be willing to do that, though I don’t have much time for rereading these days. I do recommend this book for literary fiction readers who like a challenge – it’s an incredibly written and clever story, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for what Chakraborti does next.