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Narcopolis

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Narcopolis Cover

ISBN13: 9781594203305
ISBN10: 159420330x
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"A vibrantly squalid yet glamorous Bombay of the 1970s emerges as the main character in poet Thayil's debut novel. An unnamed narrator wanders through the sweltering Indian underworld of opium dens with odd characters like the intellectually ravenous eunuch, Dimple; and Newton Xavier, a renowned visiting poet and painter. Offbeat character portraits and compelling philosophical discussions form the bulk of the book. The narrator eventually recedes from the story, but returns 25 years later to bookend the novel. In between, the focus shifts to Mr. Lee, a Chinese entrepreneur and frequenter of brothels. Mr. Lee's eventual rise to affluence serves as a parallel to the journey of the city itself. When the narrator moves back in 2004, though heroin has superseded opium as the drug of choice (resulting in an even seamier underground), he finds that Bombay has become Mumbai, an international metropolis. Thayil's precision and economy distill what could be a sprawling and uneven saga into an elegant tapestry of beautifully observed characters and their complex lives. Agent: David Godwin, David Godwin Associates." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"A brilliant first novel....Nothing like this exists in Indian literature." The Sunday Guardian (London)

Review:

"In ambition, Narcopolis is reminiscent of Roberto Bolano; but it is Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son — the best junkie book of the last quarter century — that is its closer kin. Thankfully, Thayil creates something original and vital from those blueprints. One yearns for the next hit." The Telegraph (U.K.)

Review:

"A reformed addict, Mr. Thayil has had personal experience with the world he describes. But he is also a published poet, who wields his words with care. His efforts are there to be seen." The Economist

Synopsis:

The internationally acclaimed novel of Bombay's sprawling underworld. Written in poetic and affecting prose, Jeet Thayil's luminous debut novel charts the evolution of a great and broken metropolis across three decades. A rich, hallucinatory dream that captures Bombay in all its compelling squalor, Narcopolis completely subverts and challenges the literary traditions for which the Indian novel is celebrated. It 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 that of 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.

Synopsis:

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

 

Written in poetic and affecting prose, Jeet Thayil's luminous debut novel charts the evolution of a great and broken metropolis across three decades. A rich, hallucinatory dream that captures Bombay in all its compelling squalor, Narcopolis completely subverts and challenges the literary traditions for which the Indian novel is celebrated. It 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 that of 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.

About the Author

Jeet Thayil was born in 1959 in Kerala, India. He was educated in Hong Kong, New York, and Bombay, cities where his father worked as an editor and writer. His four poetry collections include These Errors Are Correct and English, and he is the editor of The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets. As a musician and songwriter, he is one half of the contemporary music project Sridhar/ Thayil. Narcopolis is his first novel. He lives in Delhi.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Malsk87, May 8, 2013 (view all comments by Malsk87)
This book is high on reality. Even though I had nothing in common with the cast of characters portrayed in this book or their lives, I could not help but feel a strong human connection to them. It is this connection that unites us all regardless of our gender, race, educational background or other preferences. There were times when I felt that the narrative slipped into a realm of incoherence and that one had to very carefully trace the subject of a sentence in order to ascertain its identity.I assumed that that this was because of the primary subject of the book, namely, the drug fuelled underworld of Mumbai. I felt most connected with the character of Dimple, the eunuch pipemaker. As a reader, I could fully sympathize with her confusion, her desire to find her identity and her quest to belong, not only as a woman but also as a person. I felt that she was akin to a child who sat with outstretched arms on a lonely flight of stairs waiting for someone to claim her as their own. I almost felt as if I wanted to reach out and protect her from the harsh realities of life.

There was a generous use of common expletives which was almost expected given the environment the author was dealing with in his book.The author also used some distinctly Indian colloquialisms to describe certain situations. He did not, however, clearly explain the meaning of these colloquialisms. This, in my opinion, represents a flaw which could affect international readers who, in all probability, would not understand their meaning or implication. I was unaffected by this as Mumbai was and still is my city and I felt an instant connect with the places, people and situations described in the book. What struck me the hardest was the sordid and at times depressing nature of the book, it almost felt as if a happy ending was a theoretical and statistical impossibilty. It was almost like having to adjust one's eyes to total darkness and never seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. For most of my life, I had a vague idea of what the seedy drug underworld in Mumbai might be like but Thayil's book made it real for me and sharpened the blurred lines of my vision into the ugly reality of the hijras and other members of marginalised communities that I saw on my daily commute to and from work.

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Product Details

ISBN:
9781594203305
Subtitle:
A Novel
Publisher:
Penguin Press HC, The
Author:
Thayil, Jeet
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literature-Urban Life
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20120412
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

Related Subjects


Featured Titles » Man Booker Prize Shortlist 2012
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Cultural Heritage
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Debut Fiction
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » New Arrivals
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Urban Life

Narcopolis
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 304 pages Penguin Books - English 9781594203305 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "A vibrantly squalid yet glamorous Bombay of the 1970s emerges as the main character in poet Thayil's debut novel. An unnamed narrator wanders through the sweltering Indian underworld of opium dens with odd characters like the intellectually ravenous eunuch, Dimple; and Newton Xavier, a renowned visiting poet and painter. Offbeat character portraits and compelling philosophical discussions form the bulk of the book. The narrator eventually recedes from the story, but returns 25 years later to bookend the novel. In between, the focus shifts to Mr. Lee, a Chinese entrepreneur and frequenter of brothels. Mr. Lee's eventual rise to affluence serves as a parallel to the journey of the city itself. When the narrator moves back in 2004, though heroin has superseded opium as the drug of choice (resulting in an even seamier underground), he finds that Bombay has become Mumbai, an international metropolis. Thayil's precision and economy distill what could be a sprawling and uneven saga into an elegant tapestry of beautifully observed characters and their complex lives. Agent: David Godwin, David Godwin Associates." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "A brilliant first novel....Nothing like this exists in Indian literature."
"Review" by , "In ambition, Narcopolis is reminiscent of Roberto Bolano; but it is Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son — the best junkie book of the last quarter century — that is its closer kin. Thankfully, Thayil creates something original and vital from those blueprints. One yearns for the next hit."
"Review" by , "A reformed addict, Mr. Thayil has had personal experience with the world he describes. But he is also a published poet, who wields his words with care. His efforts are there to be seen."
"Synopsis" by , The internationally acclaimed novel of Bombay's sprawling underworld. Written in poetic and affecting prose, Jeet Thayil's luminous debut novel charts the evolution of a great and broken metropolis across three decades. A rich, hallucinatory dream that captures Bombay in all its compelling squalor, Narcopolis completely subverts and challenges the literary traditions for which the Indian novel is celebrated. It 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 that of 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.
"Synopsis" by ,

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

 

Written in poetic and affecting prose, Jeet Thayil's luminous debut novel charts the evolution of a great and broken metropolis across three decades. A rich, hallucinatory dream that captures Bombay in all its compelling squalor, Narcopolis completely subverts and challenges the literary traditions for which the Indian novel is celebrated. It 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 that of 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.

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