Bangalore: As part of the UK India Year of Culture, British Council today hosted the book launch of The Matsya Curse authored by Shweta Taneja. This is the second of the Anantya Tantrist Mysteries after the first one, Cult of Chaos (2014), both released by HarperCollins India. The book features a tantrik detective protagonist – Anantya Tantrist, who faces her most formidable enemy till now, a black tantrik called Bhairava, in an ultimate battle for her city and her mind.
Through this urban fantasy series, the author aims to use humour, an entertaining story to introduce urgent issues of gender, class and caste abuse. The society created in the fantasy world reflects and mirrors our own, with its social, cultural and ethical questions. Through supernatural characters, the author hopes to talk about politics of power, gender and crime. With an element of pop culture, Shweta has given birth to a modern, twisted and psychedelic version of tantrism. Being one of the bestselling authors based out of Bangalore, her ambition is to write stories that challenge preconceived notions and prejudices, all this through entertaining fiction.
The Quizzical Book Launch was marked with an entertaining tantrik quiz with prizes for three rounds of winners, and a book reading session. Samhita Arni and author Shweta Taneja had a detailed conversation on Indian fantasy, sneaking in a feminist agenda through humour and how important mythology is for today’s fantasy fiction writers.
Leighton Ernsberger, Head British Council Bengaluru and Skills India said, “British Council caters to a wide variety of audience with varying appetite of books. The Anantya Tantrist series has gained great popularity in the past and we are glad to introduce its second adventure to all readers today. The author, Shweta Taneja, is also an alumni of the Charles Wallace India Trust, spending three months in the UK. As part of the UK-India Year of Culture, we are pleased to host this event and provide a platform for a great new talent, who also embodies the potential of this vibrant cultural connection between our countries.”
Shweta Taneja said, “The Anantya Tantrist series is experimental fiction, one of the first urban fantasies in set in the Indian supernatural world. As with the genre I write in, I wanted to experiment with the form of a book launch too. I’m glad the supernatural quiz was so well accepted by the audience and hope to constantly experiment with the forms I write in and with the events I create. As an emerging Indian writer who writes in an unusual genre like Indian fantasy to talk about social issues, I’m thankful to the support that British Council and the Charles Wallace India Trust have offered me. The visit to Chichester University, UK for three months made me interact with award winning authors and introduced me to new writings from across the world. This has added to my creative repertoire and turned me into a more nuanced writer.”
About the novel
The Matsya Curse: An Anantya Tantrist Mystery is a feminist thriller set in an Indian supernatural world. It's got this kickass female heroine Anantya Tantrist who deals with the city, her personal relationships, her enemies and her self-appointed job as a tantric detective through humour, swagger and a lot of dark mantras. The novel liberally plays with mythology, questions our society's blindsightedness when it comes to caste and gender, and uses humour to play up feminist ideas.
The Matsya Curse was partly edited while Shweta Taneja was at Chichester University, UK as a Charles Wallace India Writing Fellow to the Chichester University in early 2016.
About Shweta Taneja
Shweta Taneja is a bestselling author based in Bangalore. She’s been a Charles Wallace India Writing Fellow, a roadie for an amateur band, a volunteer for a tree festival, and a cashier at a play. The Matsya Curse is the second of the Anantya Tantrist mysteries.The first one, Cult of Chaos (2014), has found a cult
following owing to its name. Her other novels include How to Steal a Ghost @Manipal (2016), and The Ghost Hunters of Kurseong (2013). She has also written two graphic novels: The Skull Rosary (2013) which
was shortlisted for Best Writer Award at Comic Con India and Krishna: Defender of Dharma (2012) which is part of CBSE and Kendriya Vidyalaya’s must-read list.
About the British Council
The British Council is the UK’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. Using the UK’s cultural resources, we make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. The majority of our income is raised delivering a range of projects and contracts in English teaching and examinations, education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organizations. Eighteen per cent of our funding is received from the UK government.
About UK/India 2017
UK/India2017 is a year-long celebration of the long-standing relationship between India and the UK, which will see a vast programme of cultural exchange and activity take place in cities across both countries. Working with a huge number of partners and institutions, the British Council is developing a programme of cultural activity which will connect and inspire people in both countries; and strengthen and celebrate the UK and India’s cultural ties. For more information on UK/India 2017 please visit www.britishcouncil.in