Price: 350 INR
“If heroin could write, this would be its novel.”
Jeet Thayil‘s debut novel ‘Narcopolis‘ is as feverish and stirring as a midsummer night’s dream that leaves you wondering about the depth of nighttime and the insanity of poetry. Spanning the eyes of several characters all bridged together by uninterrupted music, the book paints the exploits of Bombay in the early years of 1970 in the light of drugs, sex and violent decay .
“Bombay” the novel starts and then whirls into a 7 page long sentence that can only be described as panoramic painting, an establishing shot from a Hitchcock classic, an overture that tunes in and out and yet chimes throughout. The 285 pages that then follow can only be termed as a classic depiction of dangerous history occupying close lanes to that of an autobiography.
The book mainly chases the story of a ‘hijra’ named Dimple and through her into question of gender, religion, consciousness and the minds of other characters. However, the main narrator hides in the shadows for the most part of the book, speaking through hollows and 30 years of drug induced frenzy. Jeet Thayil has included plot diversions at one or two parts where the main plot gives birth to subplots branching beautifully in different direction, much like that of Dostoyevsky’s model.
Opium, or the ‘O’ and the smoke that it spews is another thread that binds the novel and so much so that it seems to whisper and whimper in your ears. Its rather impressive that despite probing the questions of death and dreams, drugs and life, the book manages to stay promptly away from pushing itself into a cell for the snobbish and the pretentious.
A nominee for the booker and the winner of The DSC prize for South Asian Literature, the book is a promising read. A recovering addict himself, a ghost of Mumbai’s Shuklaji Street- the capital of the book, Jeet Thayil has produced genuine passages with the beauty of fiction.
Overall Rating: 9/10
If you find the book interesting, buy from Amazon or Flipkart here: