Michael Billotti's Reviews > Narcopolis

Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
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Aug 20, 2012

really liked it
Read from August 20 to 29, 2012

Definitely an interesting novel, if not all together successful as a whole. I enjoyed many of the characters, but found myself wishing for a bit more from almost all of them. In Dimple, Thayil crafts an incredibly interesting and nuanced character. While much of the novel centers around her, I could easily have seen the entire novel being centered on her experience.

At times, it feels as though Thayil is attempting to do too much: telling a story of the many different addictions people face while also using a stream of consciousness narrator that freely transforms into a third-person hyper-omniscient narrator without abandoning the first voice entirely... all while attempting to portray the experience of living in Bombay. In less than 300 pages. It's quite a lot.

Thayil's style is captivating and contains many wonderful phrases and sentences. I'd be very interested to read his poetry, as many of the sections in Narcopolis feel like prose poems. His style is definitely what lifts the book from the difficulties of plotting.

It's never too terrible when an author tries to say too much, if everything they're saying is interesting and worth saying. This might end up being a novel I revisit at some point-- for a swirling, narrator-switching novel, it read very quickly. If nothing else, it makes me curious to see what Thayil does next.
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08/20/2012 page 19
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