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New book places 3 big cats at center of climate crisis & what makes them ‘man-eaters’

Published by HarperCollins, ‘Crooked Cats: Beastly Encounters in the Anthropocene’ by Nayanika Mathur will be released on 11 October on ThePrint's Softcover.

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New Delhi: A new book, ‘Crooked Cats: Beastly Encounters in the Anthropocene‘, by Nayanika Mathur, retells the familiar story of three big cats – tigers, leopards and lions – that have become predatory (man-eaters) in light of the climate crisis.

Published by HarperCollins, Mathur’s book will be released on 11 October on Softcover, ThePrint’s online venue to launch non-fiction books.

Author and anthropologist Nayanika Mathur reconceptualises these big cats that have gone off the straight path to becoming “crooked”. Building upon fifteen years of research in India, this book moves beyond both colonial and conservationist accounts to place these ‘crooked’ cats at the centre of the question of how we are to comprehend a planet in crisis.

The book delves into various theories on why and how a big cat comes to prey on humans with the ecological collapse emerging as a central explanation.

Crooked Cats‘ explores in vivid detail the many lived complexities that arise from this conundrum and offers startling new insights into both the governance of non-humans and their intimate entanglements with humans. Weaving together stories and events spun from living with three kinds of big cats, Mathur reveals them to be powerful depictions of life in the Anthropocene. She terms them as “beastly tales” that deepen our understanding of the causes, consequences, and conceptualisation of the climate crisis.

The author states that as the climate change crisis has become all the more alarming, “This work pioneers how and why human-big cat relations in India are changing due to the ecological collapse.”

She also calls her work an “indispensable account of life and death”.

“Nayanika not only explores the fascinating and terrifying world of ‘crooked cats’, she does so within the larger context of climate change. Urgent and necessary reading for anyone looking to know more about our rapidly changing environment and the dynamic inter-relationships that exist within it,” Swati Chopra, Executive Editor, HarperCollins India notes.

Mathur is an Associate Professor in Anthropology and South Asian studies as well as a Fellow of Wolfson College at the University of Oxford. She has also authored the book Paper Tiger: Law, Bureaucracy and the Developmental State in Himalayan India.

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