By Jeet Thayil
Penguin Books, Paperback, 9780143123033, 304pp.
Publication Date: September 26, 2012
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.
"A brilliant first novel . . . Nothing like this exists in Indian literature."
-The Sunday Guardian (London)
"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.)
"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."
"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."
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)