Books Of The Year #7: Narcopolis

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December 12, 2012 by markstani

Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil (pub. Faber)

‘Narcopolis’ is without doubt one of my finds of the year, and quite rightly a strong contender for just about every literary award going. It’s the kind of book you read in the knowledge that you’ve discovered a special talent. Personally, I can’t imagine what Jeet Thayil’s next novel will involve. But I know I’ll be first in the queue.

It says: Narcopolis is a rich, hallucinatory dream of a novel that captures the Bombay of the 1970s in all its compelling squalor. Stretching across three decades, with an interlude in Mao’s China, it portrays a city in collision with itself. With a cast of pimps, pushers, poets, gansters and eunuchs, it is a journey into a sprawling underworld written in electric and utterly original prose.

I say: Unlikely to nudge its way onto Oprah’s summer reading list any time soon… [Thayil] chronicles the slow demise of the city’s opium dens in such a sure-footed way he makes it almost nostalgic. Perhaps it’s hardly surprising that a book about opium should turn out to be so utterly, compellingly addictive.

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