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Shuklaji Street, in Old Bombay. In Rashid's opium room the air is thick and potent. A beautiful young woman leans to hold a long-stemmed pipe over a flame, her hair falling across her dark eyes. Around her, men sprawl and mutter in the gloom, each one drifting with his own tide. Here, people say that you introduce only your worst enemy to opium.

Outside, stray dogs lope in packs. Street vendors hustle. Hookers call for custom through the bars of their cages as their pimps slouch in doorways in the half-light. There is an underworld whisper of a new terror: the Pathar Maar, the stone killer, whose victims are the nameless, invisible poor. There are too many of them to count in this broken city.

Narcopolis is a rich, chaotic, hallucinatory dream of a novel that captures the Bombay of the 1970s in all its compelling squalor. With a cast of pimps, pushers, poets, gangsters and eunuchs, it is a journey into a sprawling underworld written in electric and utterly original prose.

292 pages, Paperback

First published January 31, 2012

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About the author

Jeet Thayil

31 books274 followers
Jeet Thayil (born 1959 in Kerala) is an Indian poet, novelist, librettist and musician. He is best known as a poet and is the author of four collections: These Errors Are Correct (Tranquebar, 2008), English (2004, Penguin India, Rattapallax Press, New York, 2004), Apocalypso (Ark, 1997) and Gemini (Viking Penguin, 1992). His first novel, Narcopolis, (Faber & Faber, 2012), was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize and the Hindu Literary Prize 2013.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 849 reviews
Profile Image for Baba.
3,530 reviews794 followers
January 29, 2023
This book was Man Booker Prize 2012 long listed. Jeet Thayil creates an eclectic cast of characters following their lives in the slums of Bombay through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. This read is was very deservedly Man Booker long listed, it is a intriguing piece of work looking at the reality of slum life but not dwelling on the misery. People live in poverty in Developing nations are more focused on making the most of their lives just like people in more Developed nations, and this is ultimately the story that Thayil tells; a good read. A three Star, 7 out of 12.

2013 read
Profile Image for Blair.
1,745 reviews4,177 followers
July 9, 2015
Narcopolis isn't so much a story as a non-linear network of little stories and vignettes: a sort of tapestry of pieces of fiction and character studies. The characters include an opium/heroin addict who initially acts as narrator (although the narrative soon wanders away from him and takes on a life of its own), several opium den 'entrepreneurs', a eunuch prostitute and a degenerate poet-slash-artist. Set in Bombay, and more specificially on Shuklaji Street where Rashid's opium house is located, the narrative flits from character to character, place to place, and back and forth through time, as well as occasionally slipping in and out of reality. I really should qualify my five-star rating by stating that I am absolutely certain this book will not be everyone's cup of tea: the author is a poet and the style is extremely lyrical, with the surreal narrative constantly evolving rather than being structured in a conventional manner. As such, it's quite hard to describe exactly what it was that really captivated me about Narcopolis. It's kind of a plotless, rambling, druggy story, so if you don't like that kind of thing then it's unlikely you'll enjoy this, but I just knew from the very beginning that I was going to love it - the sprawling cast of characters, the dreamlike voice, the astonishingly well-evoked atmosphere of Bombay in the 1970s (and onwards). I am very glad the Booker Prize longlist brought this beautifully written book to my attention, as it's the kind of novel I probably would never have heard of, let alone thought of reading, otherwise.
Profile Image for Seemita.
179 reviews1,569 followers
February 5, 2018
Forgetfulness was a gift, a talent to be nurtured.
In the war of remembering and forgetting, what side do we choose? Or do we choose at all? Isn’t life that, which happens when we are busy planning it? In the seductively opiated heavens of narrow-alleyed Bombay, a membrane-like life of a eunuch is stretched between her dreams and reality. The prima donna of a famed whore house, Dimple regales her customers with her melancholic eyes and business-like primness and efficiency. Wallowing silently in the memory of her departed lover, she wilfully insulates herself from her present state and instead falls back on books for sweet mental chaos. Come an unusually besotted patron one day and she switches her address in his favour. But does life change? Does the things worth remembering pile up and those worth forgetting, diminish?

Narcopolis is a stirring and disturbing account of that underbelly of Bombay that sniffs, smells, consumes and surrenders to drugs - a dark side which permeates into our skins as we delve deep into the protagonist’s life, her adeptness in fixing opium pipes by the day, her strangely coherent beliefs, her platonic bonds, her aggression under violation, her hope-drilled eyes. When sketching the life cycle of Dimple and people who walk in and out of her life (pimps, clerks, doctors, painters, students, wastrels), the narrative teems with a markedly persuasive texture; so much so that after a while, the professions of the characters fall asunder like dried leaves at end of a trying season, leaving bare the inner recesses of their hearts that contain the color of vigour and vulnerability, like any person we might know in our daily lives.

One of the highlights of the work is its marvellous and haunting prose. The book opens in a Proustian-styled 2000-words sentence which undulates in tone and intensity like a man under infectious intoxication.
Bombay, which obliterated its own history by changing its name and surgically altering its face, is the hero or heroin of this story, and since I’m the one who’s telling it and you don’t know who I am, let me say that we’ll get to the who of it but not right now, because now there’s time enough not to hurry, to light the lamp and open the window to the moon and take a moment to dream of a great and broken city, because when the day starts its business I’ll have to stop, these are night-time tales that vanish in sunlight, like vampire dust— wait now, light me up so we do this right, yes, hold me steady to the lamp, hold it, hold, good, a slow pull to start with, to draw the smoke low into the lungs, yes, oh my, and another for the nostrils, and a little something sweet for the mouth, and now we can begin at the beginning with the first time at Rashid’s when I stitched the blue smoke from pipe to blood to eye to I and out into the blue world…..
Because life is never fair and such unfairness appears even more magnified when viewed from the dingy lows of a whore house, Thayil’s passionate alternating first and third person voices lose a bit of a steam in the midst. But closure, like opening, is his strength and he spools the lose ends into a tight bun yet again in the culminating chapters, providing a tender, poignant climax. And like the prologue’s beginning, the final paragraph ends with ‘Bombay’ – a masterful metaphoric touch to indicate, perhaps, the surreptitious phenomenon of life coming full circle despite forces at work to render it otherwise.
Profile Image for Ankit Garg.
251 reviews346 followers
March 5, 2019
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil presents a vivid picture of the Bombay drug scene, and the life of the people associated with it. The book reads like a collection of stories, with the narrative consistently jumping in the past to cover a character's history for instance. There are instances when the character often slips out of reality and into hallucinations, thanks to the Opium High they are riding on.

One thing I'd like to clarify about this book is that it is not for everyone. The author being a poet himself has brought in the elements of poetry, thus taking the narrative apart from the set pattern a story is supposed to be dictated in.

P.S.: That opening sentence is dope (pun intended). It sets the tone which the book is going to follow throughout, along with the brilliant lyrical narrative the readers are in for.

Verdict: Recommended.
Profile Image for Daren.
1,281 reviews4,362 followers
November 27, 2022
Some of the below could be interpreted as spoilers, although I would suggest they are elements of the story brought out within the first 20 or so pages, so are not put within spoiler tags. I always find it harder to review fiction, so have kept this relatively short.

2012 Booker long listed, this novel is contemporary in style, but I wouldn't take on board comparisons to Trainspotting. The author is a poet, so if you are not a fan of often overwritten prose, this might not suit. There is switching between first and third person narration, the narration itself is somewhat confusing (purposefully, no doubt) and the story non-linear, or at least jumbled. Chapters follow different characters, and it is not always apparent which character you are with until part way through.

Shuklaji Street, and the Bombay drug scene provides the backdrop for most of the novel, the seedy side of the city is where the characters play out their lives and where a serial murderer, Pathar Maar, the stone killer, is operating, whose victims are the nameless, invisible poor. There are of course, no shortage of victims to choose from. The eclectic characters stories all find common ground at a Bombay opium den run by Rashid and his live-in assistant Dimple.

Dimple is the character the reader interacts with the most, and is certainly the most deeply detailed character with the most interaction with the other characters. Dimple was made a eunuch at at early age, and has developed as a woman, and has survived by prostitution alone, until she becomes involved in the opium den, where she prepares pipes and assists the customers. One of the sections of the book explains her history with a previous opium den, and the backstory of its Chinese owner Mr Lee.

The biggest issue with this novel is that the author fails to make the reader care about any of the characters - perhaps that was the point, that none of them were nice enough, or had enough promise for the reader to invest. For this reason, and for the overwitten prose, this book didn't really work for me in the way I had hoped.

3 stars.
Profile Image for ·Karen·.
614 reviews758 followers
April 19, 2013
text: from Latin textus "style or texture of a work," literally "thing woven," from past participle stem of texere "to weave,"
An ancient metaphor: thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns -- but the true storyteller, the poet, is a weaver.
(From the Online Etymology Dictionary)

So, the storyteller spins a yarn, but the poet creates a fabric, with warp and weft, with coloured threads craftily juxtaposed to make a pattern, whether as sumptuous as damask, as regimented as tartan, as workaday as plain ticking or as dull as drugget. But nevertheless something to run the fingers over, shake out, feel the heft and flow. Hold up to the chin and see if the colour suits you? No, I think that would be stretching this metaphor too far.

What happens if the poet has quite a different concept of his writing? Night-time tales that vanish in sunlight like vampire dust…...smoke in the lungs, in the nostrils and a little something sweet for the mouth, blue smoke from pipe to blood to eye to I and out into the blue world. Writing as dreaming other people’s dreams. Writing as addiction.
I’ll tell you what happens.
What happens is that the words slip in and out as soft as a down feather on the breeze, but waft away just as swiftly. No patterns form, something suffuses the mind, but quite what is hard to pin down. (Another dressmaker’s metaphor).

I found myself reading great chunks of this, coming back two days later and remembering nothing, re-reading chapters and wondering if someone had mischievously exchanged the pages between times, retaining the cover, even chapter headings but none of the words I read before. My husband, perhaps, cunningly trying to fool me into believing I have early onset dementia, off to the care home with you my dear. Saraswati and Shiva destroying and transforming. My brain deliquescing. The effect is (obviously) unsettling. Get a grip, you’re not concentrating. So I tried really hard, and made a mental note of this guy with the wonderful name, Newton Xavier. A painter whose art is “Catholic guilt exploded to devastating effect. He doesn’t paint as much as eviscerate and disembowel.” Two characters look at magazine reproductions of his pictures, which are gory to say the least. But then he comes to read poems at the PEN centre. No wonder there’s confusion. An extremely detailed literary review at the South Asia Journal has Xavier down as a poet, so it’s not just me, you see. Anyway, having made my careful mental note of An Important Theme and An Apparently Important Character, he disappears, never to be seen again. Sigh. Damn, just when I thought I’d spotted something that would provide some basis or other for a pattern.
Haphazard is understating the case. Nothing is left out. Bombay, Chowpatty, riots, the pathaar maar killings; gender identity, disguises, reinventions of self; poverty, pain, uprootedness, flux; slow afeem opium and fast garad heroin; art, religion, poetry, reincarnation, spirits; stories within stories within stories like Russian dolls; violence, sex, corruption, blackmail, murder.

The narrator is proud and amazed to be able to bring Xavier, the artist, to the opium den where Dimple lovingly prepares the pipes. He and Dimple have recently looked at pictures of his work in a magazine, and now here he is in person, isn't that incredible?
Dimple shook her head once. There was nothing incredible about it, she said. I thought it was so because I spoke English, because I read books, and because my parents paid for my education and my upkeep. For me everything was surprising, the world was full of wonder, the most random idiotic occurrence was incredible because my luck made it so. For people like her, for the poor, the only incredible thing in the whole world was money and the mysterious ways in which it worked.
She's right, Xavier said. Only the rich can afford surprise and or irony. The rich crave meaning.

There's a warning there, to those of us who speak English and read books and whose parents paid for our education. We're going to find it hard to make sense of this fictional world.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,865 reviews1,898 followers
May 18, 2013
20. Pearl Ruled (p129)

Rating: 3* of five

The Publisher Says: Jeet Thayil’s luminous debut novel completely subverts and challenges the literary traditions for which the Indian novel is celebrated. This is a book about drugs, sex, death, perversion, addiction, love, and god, and has more in common in its subject matter with the work of William S. Burroughs or Baudelaire than with the subcontinent’s familiar literary lights. Above all, it is a fantastical portrait of a beautiful and damned generation in a nation about to sell its soul. Written in Thayil’s poetic and affecting prose, Narcopolis charts the evolution of a great and broken metropolis.

Narcopolis opens in Bombay in the late 1970s, as its narrator first arrives from New York to find himself entranced with the city’s underworld, in particular an opium den and attached brothel. A cast of unforgettably degenerate and magnetic characters works and patronizes the venue, including Dimple, the eunuch who makes pipes in the den; Rumi, the salaryman and husband whose addiction is violence; Newton Xavier, the celebrated painter who both rejects and craves adulation; Mr. Lee, the Chinese refugee and businessman; and a cast of poets, prostitutes, pimps, and gangsters.

Decades pass to reveal a changing Bombay, where opium has given way to heroin from Pakistan and the city’s underbelly has become ever rawer. Those in their circle still use sex for their primary release and recreation, but the violence of the city on the nod and its purveyors have moved from the fringes to the center of their lives. Yet Dimple, despite the bleakness of her surroundings, continues to search for beauty—at the movies, in pulp magazines, at church, and in a new burka-wearing identity.

After a long absence, the narrator returns in 2004 to find a very different Bombay. Those he knew are almost all gone, but the passion he feels for them and for the city is revealed.

My Review: I am really sorry I read this book immediately after The Yellow Birds wrung me out, shook me wrinkle-free, and threw me in the dryer on the “Sahara in the Summer” setting. I didn't have it to give. There's a weird and wonderful book in here. I am too tired to go look for it.

I lost the will to live in the book's world at the end of book two, “The Story of the Pipe.” Actually, I lost it on p125:

Dimple made Rashid's pipe the way she always did, calm and silent, her hands steady, while the tai drank her tea, made her speech, and left. That afternoon, Rashid took Dimple to a room on a half landing between the khana and the first floor, where his family lived. There was a wooden cot, a chair and washstand, a window with a soiled curtain. She knew what he wanted. She took off her salvaar and folded it on the back of the chair. She lay on the cot and puller her kameez up to her shoulders to show him her breasts. Her legs were open, the ridged skin stretched like a ghost vagina.

He said, you're like a woman. She said, I am a woman, see for yourself.
(p125, US hardcover edition)

*ping The tolerance timer went off. Dimple, you see, is a eunuch, not a woman, and I am sorry if it offends, but mens is mens and gurlz is gurlz in my universe, no matter they say they're not.

Transphobic of me, I suppose. I'd remind those who coined that term for us'ns who don't like to make that particular leap of the fact that there is no obvious link between same-sex sexual attraction and gender dysphoria. I am not unhappy I am a man, I am delighted by it; and having experienced the very meager joys of heterosexuality (out of bed, in bed's perfectly adequate if predictable and unexciting), I am rapturously homosexual. I don't see how this in any conceivable (!) way aligns me with some poor person who knows with every fiber of his/her being that the genitals on the body they're in aren't the correct ones for his/her inner truth.

No one seems prepared to do more than snort angrily at me when I say this. Explanations aren't forthcoming. So I steam along like the QEII, big and old-fashioned and terribly behind the times.

C'est ma vie.

So these factors combine to make this well-written and most interesting story a non-starter for me. In another mood, perhaps I would've gone with it and found its unique beauties more positively interesting and less snort-and-eyeroll inducing. Considering how very many books there are awaiting my attention, I suspect I won't be coming back to this one.

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Profile Image for Shanmugam.
70 reviews37 followers
October 29, 2013
Narcotic Nonsense

When Mr. Thayil started working on this debut novel, he was around fifty years old, had released four collections of poetry, two decades of addiction under his belt. So, it has all the intellectual questions he had or heard and almost all the things he came across in Bombay. More than a novel, it is a handful of short stories and a few essays of Mumbai's dark alleys.

To give credit where it is due, whenever the narration is in descriptive nature, whether it is Shuklaji Street, Opium Den, Distinct human internals' reactions to Opium, Cocaine, Chemical and Heroine, Withdrawal Hallucinations, Beggars & Eunuchs (and other lowest of lowests in his words), or Gelding, his description is near perfect, it is as if you are experiencing them with your naked senses.

It is only when his characters start to voice their thoughts, you feel that cardboard cutout, one dimensional creations of a amateur fiction writer, like puppets created with sculpture like perfection, only to echo a puppeteer's monologues.

Excellent in parts, disappointing as a whole!
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,038 followers
October 5, 2012
Another one from the 2012 Booker shortlist.

Publisher summary:
Shuklaji Street, in Old Bombay. In Rashid's opium room the air is thick and potent. A beautiful young woman leans to hold a long-stemmed pipe over a flame, her hair falling across her dark eyes. Around her, men sprawl and mutter in the gloom, each one drifting with his own tide. Here, people say that you introduce only your worst enemy to opium.

Outside, stray dogs lope in packs. Street vendors hustle. Hookers call for custom through the bars of their cages as their pimps slouch in doorways in the half-light. There is an underworld whisper of a new terror: the Pathar Maar, the stone killer, whose victims are the nameless, invisible poor. There are too many of them to count in this broken city.

Narcopolis is a rich, chaotic, hallucinatory dream of a novel that captures the Bombay of the 1970s in all its compelling squalor. With a cast of pimps, pushers, poets, gangsters and eunuchs, it is a journey into a sprawling underworld written in electric and utterly original prose.

When the first chapter was one seven-page sentence, I wasn't sure what I had gotten myself into, exactly. It turns out that was the perfect introduction to the drug-riddled world of this book. The writing was compelling, and I enjoyed the way the world was slowly explored, all centering around one opium den (and later, heroin den), following tangents of seemingly minor characters all leading back to the central place. I never knew where it would head next, and this style allowed for multiple perspectives of Rashid, who owned the place (through his landlord, son, everyone except his wives, which would have been interesting); and Dimple, the eunuch who prepares the pipes (through her older Chinese lover, among others).

The story starts out in the Bombay of the 1970s, and moves all the way up through 2004 with some of the characters. And I suppose if you count Mr. Lee's own story, it also includes the China of his childhood.

The poverty of the setting is well-described, with some commentary such as this:

"Only the rich can afford surprise and/or irony. The rich crave meaning. .. The poor don't ask questions, or they don't ask irrelevant questions. They can't afford to. All they can afford is laughter and ghosts. Then there are the addicts, the hunger addicts and rage addicts and poverty addicts and power addicts, and the pure addicts who are addicted not to substances but to the oblivion and tenderness that substances engender." (39)

There is a direct connection between the drug culture and the poverty, made by one of the more unpleasant characters:
"How the fuck are you supposed to live here without drugs?" (211)

Some of the characters have incredible experiences together because of the opium, and there is a very memorable scene between Rashid and Dimple that includes the line:
"Dreams leak." (184)

One of the characters, after trading up the opium addiction for harder and more damaging drugs, ends up in rehab. She explains addiction in a different way:
"There are so many good reasons and nobody mentions them and the main thing nobody mentions is the comfort of it, how good it is to be a slave to something, the regularity and the habit of addiction, the fact that it's an antidote to loneliness, and the way it becomes your family, gives you mother love and protection and keeps you safe.... It isn't the heroin that we're addicted to, it's the drama of the life, the chaos of it, that's the real addiction and we never get over it; and because, when you come down to it, the high life, that is, the intoxicated life, is the best of the limited options we are offered - why would we choose anything else?" (229)

Another important element in the setting is the conflict between Muslim and Hindu, more importantly how it has an impact on business relationships. There are moments throughout the novel where violence traps the characters inside, although they don't really seem to mind.

A few other tidbits I liked:

This is a taxi driver who has been taking an opera singer around town. I think it gives a good example of the tone and the writing:
"...That's when she tells me to open the sunroof and she starts to sing, and all of the sudden I got it, you know? ... The function of opera, I understood that it was the true expression of grief. I understood why she needed to stand and turn her face up as if she was expressing her sadness to god, who was the author of it. And for a moment I understood what it was to be god, to take someone's life and ash it like a beedi. I thought of her life, her useful life, and I wanted to take it from her for no reason at all." (226)

I also think the author has a sense of humor about his characters, considering that the following quotation (and a much longer reflective passage on doubt and confidence) comes from a man who is in jail, filthy, and high (also possibly a murderer):
"Doubt is another word for self-hate, because if you doubt yourself and your position in the world you open yourself to failure." (232)

When I started writing this review, I had ranked the book at 4 stars, but honestly, I feel like this is well-crafted, I hadn't read anything like it, and I look forward to reading more of his work. It looks like he is otherwise known as a poet.

He is also guitarist, and I listened to STD by Sridhar/Thayil as I read the book.
Profile Image for Lisa.
3,280 reviews415 followers
January 26, 2013
As Mark Staniforth, fellow Shadow Juror for the Man Asian Literary Prize, wittily remarked in his review, it’s a fair guess that Jeet Thayil’s ‘Narcopolis’ is unlikely to nudge its way onto Oprah’s summer reading list any time soon. This tale from the underbelly of 1970s Bombay is about as squalid as it can get. But – longlisted it for the 2012 Booker, and now shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize – it is strangely compelling, luring the reader in, mimicking the way opium seduces the book’s characters into a world from which they can never escape.

‘These are night time-tales that vanish in sunlight like vampire dust’ says the elusive narrator in the Prologue, and it is true: characters weave their way in and out of the novel in swirls that transfix the reader and then disappear. Their lives are loosely connected to each other, but only by the narrator’s nostalgia for the opium room on Shuklaji Street. The book begins as he returns to it after an absence, introducing the reader to Dimple, named not because she has one, but after a famous Indian film star. The irony is painful. Dimple works part-time at Rashid’s brothel and increasingly at the opium room, starting under the tutelage of Mr Lee, a refugee from the excesses of Communist China where he was once a powerful man. His story, like Dimple’s, seems utterly authentic, though his easy escape surprised me. There is obviously more to know about the porous borders of Asia!

With so much in the news about the sexual abuse of women in India, Dimple’s story has added resonance. Thayil returns to this character again and again, revealing more about her life each time. These characters are not victims in the usual sense: they make choices and they have autonomy in some areas. But the story of how Dimple came to have ambiguous sexuality is not for the faint-hearted. The way people are used in this novel, as if they have no intrinsic value except for the purposes of their abuser, is a reminder that for the poor in places like this, the choice they have is to accept how things are. Dimple watches a film and wonders at the way rich people can be unhappy about such trivial things …

To read the rest of my review please visit

Profile Image for Lit Bug.
160 reviews439 followers
September 25, 2013
Set in the city of Bombay and spanning a time-frame from 1970s to 2004 as we listen to the narrator, just back from the U.S. as he goes about on Shuklaji Street, following the lives of the under-belly of the the chaos that is Bombay, from the hijra Dimple/Zeenat, Rashid, the khanawala, the sensational painter Xavier to Lalaji and Rumi, other lesser-characters that make up the streets, the squalor, the underside of the glittering city, Narcopolis is a pastiche of vignettes that build up the picture of the Bombay I knew, but never saw.

The novel starts with a 7-page sentence as we see the narrator cruising through the city, and sets the tone for the rest of the work - its themes of drugs, addiction, exploitation and survival in a city where everyone fends for oneself. The sheer brilliance of the one sentence that captured a myriad images of Bombay into a cohesive picture of its under-belly perked up my expectations.

But after the novelty fades off, well, it was quite disappointing. What started as an assemblage of pictures didn't go further into anything - no character-development, no plot-development, and though the city of Bombay itself was its protagonist, instead of the setting, there was no visible Bombay-development.

I didn't mind the non-linear narrative or the lack of a uni-directional plot. What bothered me was that the vignettes revealed nothing to me I didn't know - which I see as a flaw in the sense that though it portrayed Bombay very well, it hardly stepped out of its realm to examine issues surrounding its main premises, issues that had much to do with all that drug/prostitution/exploitation culture.

I found the characters to be mere caricatures, lacking depth. Often I felt I was reading the book-version of the movie 'Slum-dog Millionaire' - a movie that apparently had no aim apart from displaying its poverty, cruelty, filth and underworld to vicarious foreigners, but apart from that, having little value as literature.

I thought he was attempting to write like Rushdie - a mixture of cultural irreverence and political sarcasm delivered with a careless flourish that shocks the reader, all the while being bluntly truthful. But nor did the supposedly sharp knife slash through my sensitivity, nor did it its soft edges give a worthwhile result.

Too many ruminations that had nothing to do either with Bombay or with the characters, that were not poignant as observations into a city or a culture or its time-frame. The period he has chosen is such a vast one, with many important political events taking place that had both local and national consequences, and all the while, he simply eschewed them all, as if they didn't matter - if they had been alluded to, well, the work would have been far richer. After all, the novel was supposed to be about Bombay - and what we get instead are sensational pictures of a part of Bombay - but not alluding to real life apart from that.

What do I feel at the end of the book, then? Disinterested and Disappointed .
Profile Image for Ali.
1,242 reviews334 followers
September 30, 2012
“Because now there's time enough not to hurry, to light the lamp and open the window to the moon and take a moment to dream of a great and broken city, because when the day starts its business I'll have to stop, these are night-time tales that vanish in the sunlight like vampire dust”
This will be a fairly short review – as I don’t want to spend too much time talking about a book I disliked. I stopped short of hating it – just – but I certainly didn’t like it. The writing is good - in places very good, lovely prose –something I always enjoy – you might expect that at least I suppose in a Booker shortlisted novel, but the subject, the setting and the characters I disliked.
“Then there are the addicts, the hunger addicts, the rage addicts, the poverty addicts , and power addicts, and the pure addicts who are addicted not to substances but to the oblivion and the tenderness the substances engender. An addict, if you don't mind me saying so, is like a saint. What is a saint but someone who has cut himself off, voluntarily, from the world's traffic and currency.”

Shuklaji Street, in Old Bombay is the setting, a place of opium addicts, prostitutes and violence. The novel spans many years, starting in the 1970’s with changing narrators it is chaotic and hallucinatory and really rather squalid, upon finishing it I wanted a bath. The narrator of the start of the novel, a visitor to the Opium den of Rashid, where he also meets the eunuch prostitute Dimple, he returns at the end of the novel, many years later to see who is left and find out what has happened to the people he knew back then.
The construction of the novel is more like many small stories that weave in and out of each other in a non-linear way. We meet Mr Lee – a regular patron of Dimple’s whose back story takes us to the cultural revolution of Mao’s china. I did find the stories of Mr Lee and Dimple to be the most interesting, and for a while after struggling with the beginning of the book I began to actually enjoy it. However I found it difficult to remain interested in the characters and the construction of the novel made it hard at times to follow. This construction is very clever – this dream like almost hallucinatory quality is beautifully suited to these stories – the narratives seem like the confused and foggy view of an opium addict might look.
I had looked forward to this book – and judging by the reviews of it on good reads and amazon I am something of a lone voice. Most people seem to have liked it a lot – so I must have missed something, it always rather annoys me if I feel I have missed what others haven’t. Well we can’t always like the same things can we?
Profile Image for Abhinav.
272 reviews249 followers
April 23, 2013
A very strange book indeed. In fact, I'd say I've never read anything like it before.

Jeet Thayil's Booker-nominated novel starts out in Bombay of the 1970s, when the narrator Dom Ullis arrives in the city, having been deported back to India from the States on account of his substance abuse problems. He meets a multitude of different characters like Dimple the eunuch, Newton Xavier the painter, Rumi the frustarted married man & many others at Rashidbhai's chandu khana (opium den) in Shuklaji Street, which lies at the heart of the city's red light district Kamathipura. The plot of the novel continues through the next two decades into the new millennium & revolves around the lives, desires & troubled minds of the people who frequent the opium den. While most of the book follows a linear narration, there is a slight detour to China in Book Two ('Story of the Pipe') when the story of Mr. Lee's (Dimple's physician-cum-friend-mentor) childhood & youth is narrated in flashback mode.

The fascinating aspect of 'Narcopolis' is the hallucinatory yet realistic narration. It gets into the minds of the different characters when they are in a dreamy state (post-abuse) & challenges the reader to keep track & understand when the character is in reality or is dreaming. (Sounds bit like Inception? It certainly isn't anything remotely similar) But the style certainly ensures that the characterisation is top-notch as one gets to delve into the deepest, darkest recesses of the minds of the different characters. Also, the prose is exquisite & beautiful despite the rather excessive use of Hindi words (not a problem for me!)

The book also serves as an interesting guide to the history of the drug trade in Bombay/Mumbai, as to how opium dens were the rage in the 1970s & then about a decade later, the entire business has ditched opium for newer substances such as garad (heroin) & 'Chemical' and finally with the advent of the 21st century, Rashidbhai's son Jamaal is selling cocaine to the city's rich folks. It's not entirely core to the plot, but is engrossing nonetheless. There are also some other references to events such as the 'Patthar Maar' serial killer & the 1993 Hindu-Muslim riots, which serve as a backdrop as the novel progresses.

What I also loved about it was the detour to China I mentioned earlier, primarily set during the early years of Communist China & how Mr. Lee's father, initially a popular novelist fades into oblivion when he writes his greatest & final piece of work named 'Prophecy'. Let me tell you this, I was blown away reading about this particular book (entirely fictional) & I think Jeet Thayil deserves high praise indeed for getting these small things right.

Thayil also explores themes such as freedom & free will with respect to drug addiction through a church sermon, where this book raises pertinent questions regarding how much of free will is involved when one indulges in drugs & whether one is really experiencing freedom in any real sense while getting high.

However, where this book doesn't work for me is the disconnect I felt with the characters. I guess it must be my prejudice towards those who are drug addicts & substance abusers, but I simply didn't feel anything for them despite their deprived lives & troubled minds.

I'm changing my initial rating & I give 3.5 to 4 stars to 'Narcopolis' by Jeet Thayil. Read it to experience the nostalgia around Bombay when it was still Bombay, besides the delightful prose & challenging narration. This is one book that's gonna grow on you over time. Recommended for fans of literary fiction.
9 reviews1 follower
August 23, 2012
I was really looking forward to reading Narcopolis. Jeet Thayil was himself an addict for 20 years, and the book is an insider's account of Bombay's drug scene.

That Thayil is an excellent writer is apparent in the first few pages. His style though, is gratingly monotonous. The writing can only hold your attention for so long. Ultimately the plot and the characters need to generate enough interest to make you want to carry on. I finished Narcopolis and realized that I felt nothing about any character. That, I think, is Narcopolis' biggest failing - after the first 50 or so pages of a few "wow" moments, it simply fails to evoke any emotion.

The characters show a lot of promise in the beginning, but in the absence of a good back story, they fizzle out. You're given just a few tidbits of information about their past. It's like looking out of a foggy window - you never really see or "get" them.

In a nutshell Narcopolis is well written, but not compelling enough. Alas, a good writer is not always a good storyteller.
Profile Image for Παύλος.
228 reviews31 followers
September 6, 2017
Πολυ μπερδεμένο και σε συνάρτηση με την παντελώς άγνωστη για μενα Ινδική καθημερινότητα, όχι και τόσο ενδιαφέρον.

Μου θύμισε γραφή του Σέλμαν Ρουσντι. Αρκετά ποιητικό, σαν σου τραγουδάει κάποιος κάτι. Αναμφίβολα έχει λογοτεχνική πένα αλλά καθόλου κοντά στα δικά μου γούστα.

Profile Image for Jeva Lange.
3 reviews6 followers
August 21, 2012
“Truth is Heroin is Beauty.”
-Narcopolis, Jeet Thayil.

At first glance, Narcopolis is a novel about drugs. At second glance, it is a novel about lust. At third, it is a novel about Bombay. And, when the reader finishes the last breathtaking page of Jeet Thayil’s debut Man Booker long-lister, Narcopolis will again have transformed into being about something else entirely.

So goes the magic of a great book.

In an interview with NPR, Thayil speaks with a poet’s voice: confidant and yet careful, giving special attention to every syllable as he talks. His particular enunciation he likely owes to his own poetic background, in which he has authored collections including These Errors Are Correct and English. Narcopolis owes the same confidence and care to this background, although, while philosophical and at times whimsical, the content tends to be more prosaic and, in Thayil’s words, a far cry from being “soft-focused.”

To begin, Narcopolis is a story from the underbelly of Bombay—now called Mumbai, although Thayil stubbornly refuses to ever use “the M-word”—and with it, a cast of characters as dark, desperate and broken as the city itself. Although the novel centers on Dimple, who is a eunuch, prostitute, and opium addict, it also addresses a dealer named Rashid; a Chinese opium addict referred to as Mr. Lee; and the stone killer “Pathar Maar,” murderer of the voiceless and forgotten underworlders and who is, perhaps, a dark personification Bombay itself.

Thayil’s voice in the novel is raw and unabashed; Thayil himself spent two decades as an opium addict in the same shadowy Bombay of which he writes. In the same way that it is a journalistic exposure of an unglamorous India (“I try to avoid any mention of mangoes, of spices and monsoons”), it is also a personal confession.

Narcopolis drifts through side plots and, as a result, time, in a way that becomes increasing hallucinatory without ever succumbing to the cheap tricks that most “drug novels” tend to trip up on. Perhaps this is because Narcopolis does not give its characters any allowances; they are owed their fates and as readers, we are not lead to feel sentiment or pity. Rather, we are meant to focus on the philosophy that slips into Thayil’s golden prose.

This philosophy comes across in two ways: Either forward and obvious, as Dimple’s book on reincarnation is presented, or subtle and hard to catch, like the discussion of the roles of man and woman implied through Dimple’s rare use of name, but abundant referral as She or Her. However, if there is one point that Thayil fixates on, it is that of addiction, and as he admits in his NPR interview:

“Every character in this book is an addict of some sort — addicted to drugs or to violence or to religion or to sex. And as the Dimple character says later, after her transformation, she says, it’s possible the addict is actually the freest of men because everybody knows what addiction does, how it can destroy your life. And to know those things and to continue to do it is actually an example of free will at its strongest.”

Narcopolis only relents under the density of what it is trying to present. At less than three hundred pages, Thayil wastes few words, although some of the asides seem more personal than relevant. While having sworn off the capitalization on the exotic, Thayil unintentionally charms the reader with his underworld’s swirl of characters and memories.

With its honesty and masterly-crafted prose, I would be shocked not to see Narcopolis on the Man Booker short list, come this September. One cannot help but mull over the prose well after the book has reached its end. As a result, Narcopolis is a story of drugs and lust, a story of the pipe, of intoxication, of decay and violence. But more than it is a “drug novel,” Narcopolis is a framing of the metropolis of Bombay, for in the beginning, just as at the end, it is the city to which you’ve become addicted.

Penguin, 288 pages. [RMS: 7.0]
Read more about Narcopolis from me here: http://quakeculture.wordpress.com/201...
Profile Image for Shaheen Ashraf-Ahmed.
Author 4 books24 followers
April 13, 2013
This was a major disappointment. It started off strong; the opening tells you how competent the author is as a writer. Where the book fails, is in making you care about any of the characters, beyond a slight sympathy for Dimple. Most of the book is written from the point of view of one character or another who is about to get high/is high/is coming down from being high, and that vantage point gets tiresome really fast. We are taken in a no-holds-barred tour of the drug addict's life in Bombay, and it soon becomes a journey I regretted taking. I barely finished the book, and could not bear to read another description of violation of one sort or another. At the end of the book, the owner of the khana, or drug-den, Rashid, scolds the narrator for wanting to keep mementoes of the old days, when the khana was in full swing. His words are ironic for the weary reader, who has held on, past one too many depictions of rape/gruesome murder. "Put our shame on display, so people understand the lowest of the low, prostitutes and criminals and drug addicts, people with no faith in god or man, no faith in anything except the truth of their own senses. This is a worthwhile thing to you?"
Most honest lines of the book. I can read a narrative about the marginalized/people who have been humiliated by addiction, but give me something to hope for, some dim light of humanity to pursue. This book seemed like an exploitative guided tour, front row seats. I knew it would take me through those streets, I just expected to find something life-affirming at the end of it. I'm sure there were better choices for the Man Asian prize, but the judges must have thought that this book was "Important" because it delved into the dark depths of humanity. I want to read the other shortlisted books now, because I strongly suspect they were cheated.
Profile Image for Radiantflux.
427 reviews405 followers
March 20, 2018
24th book for 2018.

A haunting, hallucinatory account of Mumbai's opium drug culture in the 1970s. Written by a ex-addict poet there is a realism here that captures both the beauty and horror of this vanished subculture.

One of my favorite books for the year so far.

Profile Image for Sridhar Reddy.
56 reviews4 followers
August 9, 2012
Three and a half stars. Jeet Thayil's 'Narcopolis' contains some of the most vividly realized characters I've ever come across in a book. Deeply felt and complex, they each weave in and out of reality and consciousness, bound by an endless stream of narcotics and the den that serves to encapsulate the crushed ambitions of a city full of dreamers.

Thayil's prose is both poetic and raw, his wordplay masterful and yet his subject matter abhorrent. It's a vivid juxtaposition that mirrors the drug experience - lucid in thought and yet surrounded by detritus.

Perhaps my greatest criticism of the book is its omission - there is the mention of a murderous, destructive force called the Pathar Maar, a killer of the poor and voiceless. The Pathar is an intriguing figure, perhaps a metaphor for the city itself, and yet Thayil mentions the Pathar in only three sentences in the entire book. It is an incomplete thought, and to leave the reader hanging with such a powerful image and concept is a little disconcerting.

Otherwise a powerful and experiential book. Not for the faint of heart, as Thayil reveals and shows every detail of the lives of junkies, pimps and prostitutes. The depiction is, however gruesome, overall respectful, as Thayil never once portrays his characters as victims. They are accountable for their decisions, and never are we manipulated to feel pity. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Elaine.
780 reviews361 followers
October 7, 2012
This book snuck up on me -- I didn't really like the beginning -- there was some pretentious stuff about art and religion that didn't really work for me, and writing the surreal dreams of the drugged needs to be done exceptionally skillfully or it just reads as self-indulgent and annoying. But after a rough beginning, I got sucked in -- the episodes in China were great, and Dimple, Rumi and Rashid emerge as strong, fascinating characters, and the host of supporting characters are also compelling. While parts of the story are familiar (Hindu/Muslim violence or brutal poverty in Mumbai, for example), this is an edgy un-cliched Mumbai you haven't quite seen before -- dirty, mind blown on all sorts of drugs, violent, but never pathetic or banal, rather always vital and changing.

Although largely episodic, there is a plot, and a heroine (Dimple), if not really a hero, and it is worth waiting for those to emerge. The writing is lively and occasionally limpidly piercing (if at other times a bit too taken with itself). While I thought dismissively at the beginning that I'd stumbled across a derivative Indian Trainspotting, this book (while obviously influenced by Trainspotting) is actually far richer and nuanced than its predecessor.
Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews657 followers
August 10, 2018
I wonder if it is that to get a book published when you're an Indian ex-pat author, it needs to be really, really good. I suspect that may be the case, but I have to say that by far and large, the books I've read by authors (mostly men) who come from India have been just so good. Dynamic, interesting, compelling, often very difficult. It'll be a mark of progress when you don't have to be this good to get published, when mediocrity is allowed you the same as it is allowed white authors, but at the moment, damn.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for Prem Sylvester.
244 reviews27 followers
November 22, 2020
Few can write fiction like Jeet Thayil does. This is a serpentine book, moving in hallucinatory passages between reality and dream. But its dreams are nightmares, its people unholy, its city forever stained. The dark rotting pit into which so many lives fall is its leitmotif, and redemption a fiction. A haunting, murky, and deeply unnerving read 
Profile Image for Chris Craddock.
250 reviews53 followers
July 3, 2012
Bombay sounds like quite an astonishing place, as described by author Jeet Thayil in his first novel, Narcopolis. About Narcopolis, Thayil said, "I've always been suspicious of the novel that paints India in soft focus, a place of loved children and loving elders, of monsoons and mangoes and spices. To equal Bombay as a subject you would have to go much further than the merely nostalgic will allow. The grotesque may be a more accurate means of carrying out such an enterprise."

While I did notice a few mangoes and monsoons in his manuscript, he described an India that was utterly different than the one we are accustomed to. While he did mention both mangoes and monsoons, there was one word that he never uttered: Mumbai. The novel begins and ends, however, with the old name of that metropolis: Bombay. Bombay is the Narcopolis of the book's title, and Bombay is the star and subject of the book, its alpha and omega. Jeet's refusal to even mention the word Mumbai shows his allegiance to the ancient name, the ancient metropolis.

I really enjoyed Jeet Thayil's prose. As one reviewer put it: "His idiom is the result of a cosmopolitan blend of styles, and is yet, quite clearly, his own." The story is told with the voice of Dom, an Indian student from a rich family. Dom got into trouble while living in New York so he was sent back home only to get into even deeper trouble on Shuklaji Street. He is honest about his shortcomings, and doesn't pretend to care about anything other than drugs. He is not very likeable, in fact--but probably doesn't care whether you like him or not. This gives his words a certain authenticity--a ring of truth. Why would he lie about other matters when he is so blunt about himself? Though the book begins with the run-on-sentence-to-end-all-run-on-sentences just to give a feel for the free-flowing conversations of opium dens, it settles into a very simple style, very matter-of-fact, not trying to show off or impress, but soon you are blown away. This is literature, Jack, and it effortlessly combines pop culture references from India, England, and America with Hindi and Sanskrit street slang, and just a soupçon of poetry.

The Bottom Line is that Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil is a most impressive first novel. It gives quite a vivid impression of Bombay as it undergoes massive changes, and serves as both guided tour and elegy. The story begins in the 1970s and carries through to the recent past. Bombay is now a global village where ancient traditions, though threatened by the relentless march of time, still exist alongside modern cultural influences such as the music of Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, and the science fiction of Philip K. Dick. Narcopolis is a tour de force that lulls you into a lotus dream of O then slams you in the face like a cobblestone cast by Pathar Maar, the stone killer.

Ciao, Bombay.

Much More Than Monsoons and Mangoes, a review by Chris Craddock of Jeet Thayil's Narcopolis
354 reviews169 followers
September 23, 2013
Now where do I even start?

There's always a problem with these critically acclaimed, highly praised books. You expect something from them, something larger than life, something special, and most of the time you've raised the bar in your head so high that the book can never reach that elevation.

This one will.

Jeet Thayil's 'hallucinatory dream of a novel' as described in one of the blurbs, is exactly that. It is a book that could not have been written; it could only have been lived. It's a meditation on loneliness, being, identity and madness unlike any other.

Bombay is both the hero & the villain of the story, a story that will take you to the back alleys of a broken city, to the politics of Mao's China and back to the changing city, which keeps trying harder to blow itself up. You can see the city transforming, feel the undercurrent of the metamorphosis that is the perennial state of Bombay, in something as small but utterly significant as the transformation of opium to 'chemical', to garad and heroin. Visions of color, light & dark, good & evil, haunt the characters, but they have no idea which is which, and neither, as the reader, do you.

And what characters. Never will you meet a character as multifaceted and deep, as sad, as lonely and as haunted as Dimple. And her being a 'hijda' is nothing more than a part of her being; it is never elevated to the core of her character, of who she is, and that gives her presence in the novel a sort of beautiful dignity. Rashidbhai's quirks and religious paradoxes, Rumi's unfettered, undeclared madness; Bombay lives in each of these characters, developing an indelible, unforgettable photograph of the back streets. Rereads are a given, even if just to understand how the author put that image of smoke in your head there, how he managed to make you think about flowers there.

The narrator states on page seven, "..I was sent back to India & I found Bombay & opium, the drug & the city, the city of opium & the drug Bombay - "

This book in itself is no less, the pages will flow like the drags of weed you must have experimented with sometimes. Not the first one, the first drag just warms you up. The second one, the third one, the fourth one.., until you are lost in a place you are unsure exists or not.

Narcopolis will take you there, to someplace far, someplace lost, a place so hidden within yourself you need the pipe to bring it out, to understand who you are and where you've been.

It is that kind of book.
Profile Image for Muthulakshmi.
36 reviews13 followers
December 29, 2016
I almost gave up on the book. Almost. No, wipe off that shit-eating grin; I am not going to say "..but I am glad I didn't". I finished it to prove a point.

Okay, fine. there was no point. I pushed through 79% so I finished it all because I am a wuss like that.

That said, the book isn't a complete disaster. The prose is free flowing and all-out brilliant. Which is high praise coming from someone who refuses to read On the road for the exact same reason (I'm Kerouac and punctuation is like so arachic and I am too beat for that shit). The picture he paints of Bombay in 70's is beautiful as it is vivid. The concept of addiction is excellently handled.

But it is a literary fuckfest there on. I understand narration is free flow, but the narrator just disappears for six fucking chapters in between. I don't even know whose p.o.v those chapters are from. The events told happened to characters who knew the characters our narrator barely interacted with. So there is no logical explanation as to why he knows the things he does. Characters are so god-damn one dimensional. And for reasons beyond my comprehension, comments on the Hindu-Muslim situation are strewn about randomly. Finally, Bombay underbelly and streets? Holy innovative-setting-for-a-story-in-India, batman!!

To conclude, I despise trying to make meaning out of random shit, just to sound intelligent and poetic.

Really, whatever.

Profile Image for Amit.
219 reviews7 followers
October 2, 2012

Eunuchs...Prostitutes...Drugs...Sex...More Drugs...More Sex

This is what the entire book deals with. It is a nostalgic account of a man who lived in the 70's era of Bombay, where drugs, prostitution and corruption ran rampant. Not much different from now, except everything here now occurs under a veil of secrecy.

The author has done quite a good job of describing the Bombay of that era. How people were carefree during those days, enjoying the simpler things in life unlike today where time and money mean everything. He also included the Mumbaiyya slang words which in my opinion combined frequently with English letters make it sort of odd. The book however, does have this ability to transport you to that place and time.

This is the sort of book a hippy would enjoy since it basically is describing his carefree "screw the world"lifestyle. The book does tend to get boring at times despite being just under 300 pages. Towards the end the book, the author has perfectly drawn the comparisons between the old and the new city.

I have to give this book a 2.5 star rating since it's not that good but still something you won't regret spending your time on. Beware that this book does contain some pretty intense sexual material.

For Indian readers, the book is currently priced at Rs.499 ($9.52) for the hardcover version but you can get it online at IndiaPlaza for a discounted price of Rs.324 ($6.18).
Profile Image for Damien D'Enfer.
Author 1 book9 followers
August 11, 2013
After reading some of the reviews below I feel compelled to add my two cents. This may not be a pretty world Thayil creates, but guess what? Worlds like this exist. I should know.

As an ex-heroin addict myself, I vouch 100% for Thayil's depiction of the life of addicts. Whether they are in India, NYC, New Orleans, etc., there are certain things that make the experience universal. Thayil writes about the desperation, enslavement, degradation, beauty and poetry of the addict's life with mastery. But the thing that makes Narcopolis extraordinary is the compassion he applies to his characters.

Addicts are the ultimate outsiders. They scratch around the perimeters of life, seeking redemption and connection. I'm surprised by the lack of care and imagination in some of the reviews below. Did Thayil upset some's expectations of 'normal' and 'acceptable'? Baaaa. Since when should artists adhere to those ideas?

My advice is, open your hearts and minds and let Thayil show you another side of life. It's not all ugly, trust me.
84 reviews11 followers
July 27, 2019
This is a REAL book, a brilliant one written in a tradition that very few Indian writers in English can handle. It is an opium pipe-dream located in multiple realities brought to life by myriad fascinating characters in the city of Bombay with interludes in New York and China. It brings living to life in the tradition of the Surrealists, the Decadents and the Beats. The Pathar Maar, a serial killer who used stones to bash in the heads of the homeless on the streets, strangely enough, reminded me of the central character in Colin Wilson's 'Ritual in the Dark'. But that is what I like about this book. The smoke of its beautiful writing takes me to strange places, into bodies and minds and spirits, tracing out the knowledge-seeking world of the hijra-heroine of the book, a first for Indian writing, and ugly pleasure-domes. It also tells of the mystery embedded in smoke - its dispelling, its ruminating,its desperation and its non-being.
Profile Image for Alan.
Author 10 books159 followers
February 17, 2020
Bombay in the 70s, an opium den in a side street off a side street. Obviously druggy af, full of hallucinations and opium/heroin dreams, the stories concern the three staff and their customers, particularly Dimple's adventures, the eunuch (from the age of 8) woman who prepares the pipe and has sex (for money) with some of the regulars. She has a relationship with a Chinese dissident on the run and his story of the thought police in Maoist China, torture and prison, is told in detail, as are many other characters' histories. The effect is rather like tales told round a campfire, only these are told around a pipe, tales of violence, sex and squalor, trade, reincarnation and the power of reading. At the end there is a jump into the present (2000s) to see what has happened to the place and its inhabitants. Stunning and absorbing, although probably not for everyone.
Profile Image for Smriti.
588 reviews554 followers
May 23, 2017
With every book you read, you can always find something that went wrong - something you didn't like. When I read Narcopolis, I couldn't find any wrong.

The book had me hooked from the first paragraph. I remember being tired. I had comeback from a long day at work and I had hardly slept the night before. I was ready to sleep at 10. I read the first page and suddenly, it was 1.

I now feel like I need to consume everything that Jeet Thayil has written. EVERYTHING.
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