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Narcopolis is a fictional book on Indian literature by Jeet Thayil. It gives an account of the city of Old Bombay over a period of three decades and the people and their incidents that occurred during that time.
Summary Of The Book
This book gives an amazing account of the shady and latent incidents that are generally overlooked by a common individual. The book gives an account ranging for a period of three decades. The place in which the story unfolds is called Shuklaji Street, in Old Bombay.
The opium place which belongs to a man called Rashid has many mysteries to offer. A lady in her youth is narrated to carry a pipe over a flame. She has a very shabby appearance. The people present in the room seem to grunt with disdain. The rule urges people to familiarize one’s deadliest opponent to opium. Then ghosts seem to prevail in and around the place belonging to different religions like Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. This book also gives a brief overview about an interlude in Mao's China. After that, there is this gossip about Pathar Maar, the stone killer. It is rumoured that Pathar Maar is very dangerous and feeds on the unseen poor masses. The characters introduced in the group are a horrific group of pimps, pushers, poets, gangsters, and eunuchs.
About Jeet Thayil
Jeet Thayil is a very popular Indian poet, novelist, and musician.
Apart from this book, he has authored many other books, some of which are These Errors Are Correct, Apocalypso, and Gemini.
The theme which is seen to be followed in his book is a rare blend of many prevalent emotions. He is often seen to express the plethora of drugs and alcohol, sex and death, which resembles the creations of Keats and Baudelaire. He is often described as a writer influenced more by foreign writers like William S. Burroughs and Roberto Bolano rather than the ones with an Indian tinge in their writings. But one must not be mistaken that despite implementing a combination of hints from various kinds of styles, his writing carries a unique charm which can be easily segregated from the writing style of any other author.
Jeet Thayil was born in Kerala, India. He received almost his entire education away from India. He obtained a Masters in Fine Arts from Sarah Lawrence College, which is situated in New York. He has since then received a number of prizes and accolades from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Swiss Arts Council, the British Council, and the Rockefeller Foundation. In addition to his writing skills, he is also very reputed as a performance poet and musician. He has laid his mark even as a songwriter and a guitarist. He has served as a journalist in totally diverse cities like New York, Mumbai, and Bangalore. Thayil got shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012 for writing this novel.
|Publisher||Faber & Faber|
|Number of Pages||304 Pages|
|Awards||DSC Prize for South Asian Literature|
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This is not the book for the wishy washy airy fairy cup-o-chai bourgeoisie reader of Indian writing in English. This is for the connoisseur, one who knows the pipe and the tales of the smoke and mirrors of life. The journey into this Parnassus of quickened, heightened, multiplied consciousness in Narcopolis begins and ends in Bombay, with an exciting interlude in China and a mention of New York. It is a journey on the slow train of transgressions, living vicariously the vicissitudes of its inhabitants slipping djinn-like in and out of opiate tunnels of illumination. Dive in and discover the secrets of Dionysian harmonies.
Narcopolis is a hard hitting, realistic book that shines a light on the drug sub-culture in Bombay over the past 4 decades. The story revolves a motley cast and traces their lives against the backdrop of a fast changing city. Thayil's biggest success is that he neither glamorizes nor vilifies any of the protagonists, instead describing their weaknesses and foibles without any judgement or pity. Ultimately, this is a book about Bombay - perhaps the biggest drug of them all. A good read for those who want to learn more about a, hitherto ignored, side of this mad city.
Jeet Thayil’s debut novel Narcopolis (2012) marks a continuation in the Indian literary scene of a conscious awareness of the problematics of identity and belonging (personal, religious, sexual, regional, national, and international) in an ever evolving post-independent, post-colonial India. The backdrop of the drug world where an unlikely set of characters come together provides the locus for the intersection of these elements. This theme is infused formalistically with a conscious stylistic engagement with what is now termed high modernism as well as postmodernism. James Joyce makes his presence felt as early as the prologue and is followed by Baudelaire, Burroughs among others pervading the spirit of the city of the dead. The narrator, Dom Ullis (Ulysses?), a Tiresias in the land of this rabidly globalising, decaying, dying city is himself a ghost. His ineffectuality is replicated by the pattern of the narrative itself where he appears and disappears by turns and even more so than Eliot’s Tiresias is not only not prophetic but barely able to decipher the meaning of the phantasmagoria of characters and images that surround him. Dom is unable to even take credit for his story transferring any active participation that storytelling might have accidentally granted him to the pipe.
Where Narcopolis gains is, apart from the realistic description of Bombay’s underbelly and its changing face over a span of over thirty years, is the effortless ease with which its author transforms autobiography into fiction. Thayil is quoted as saying “I didn’t even bother changing some of the names, as they’re all dead now.” The keen eye with which he makes his reader percolate the several layers of lives of the array of characters Dimple, Rumi, Rashid, Salim, Jamal, Bengali through the various episodes is achieved by allowing their multiplicity of the voices to emerge. This dialogic mode is one of the reasons that prevent the novel from becoming just another drug/junkie novel. For it is not just addiction to heroine or opium that return the narcos (the inhabitants of this narco-polis) to this world. Everyone is trapped in their own personal hell, the pipe just helps them burn in another one. Dimple is addicted to knowledge, Rumi to violence, Mr Lee to his China, Rashid to Dimple as Thayil is to his Bombay.
Nietzsche might have been right in asserting that “blessed are the forgetful” but it is a luxury that only a few can lay claim to. Memory finds its most painful rendition in acting as a persistent reminder to the inhabitants of this Hades of their dislocation and it is this inability to forget which is also the failure to forgive or outgrow the past. The displacement physical/geographical as well as mental resurges at key moments whether it is when Dimple recounts her childhood with her mother Hindu-Christian mother in north-east India or Mr Lee’s personal history of China. This rootlessness of being which the characters often try to repress finds alternative modes of expression in religion or opium or sex but is bound to fail as the past they are trying to recapture is as illusory as the present they inhabit. Yes, Bombay is dying. To quote the author, “Everybody is dying...” But there is yet time for the burial of the dead in this Narcopolis/Necropolis. Redemption lies just around the corner from Shuklaji Street. The glimmer of it is found in the various manifestations of love that still makes itself felt despite all odds. Of course love too is often muted, perverted, dead, or even a ghost and is rarely if at all expressed. Still it exists and beyond life and often inextricably intertwined with memory. Lives are stretched beyond death as long as one is remembered: Mr Lee comes back from the dead when Dimple betrays her last promise to him and Dimple will remain alive as long as Rashid’s memory does. Even the fraudulent S T Pande who is his own publisher and bookseller (reminiscent of Swift) hints at the necessity of remembering to forget. Its placement in the text also questions the very nature of fictionality as well as reality when fiction is placed within fiction.
The end, as it has often been remarked, marks the transition of an ever evolving Bombay whose ever-changing yet ever-the-same sea is all that remains from an older world long dead. Bleak as it is, it also marks a forward movement, an acceptance of the old world on its own terms without blaming it and without guilt. Spider-man Shankar won’t return to that world but cares enough to convey his regards to his old boss and Ullis is no longer a regular but a visitor. This understanding of addiction (to drugs, violence, love, sex, memory) and its reasoned acceptance/rejection on its own terms is where Narcopolis’ beauty lies. For, here races condemned to hundred years of solitude might still have a second opportunity on earth.
this isa book for teh readers, who read books fort he flow of events, for the descriprion, for moving back and forth in history... all booker nominees carry a distinct mark.
midmights children, sesne of an ending, noe nacropolis, all are teh same yet different.
there is nothing to say aboutt eh book as it deals omn the fgeneral stroy of opium/eunchs/prostitures, sexual desires.. .
BUT THE BEST PART IS THE RPESENTATION.
U FEEL AS IF U R A PART OF THE PROCEEDINGS.
and peobably that is what makes great writers different.
this is not a chalu book by some young writer who has spent lahs for the publicity of the book and has arranged bookr eleases and starry celebrations.
this is worth aread, if u like literature, if u like teh detailed description of feelings, ehich u yourself have failed in doing....
please read hte book. you will write a better review.
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil is one of the worst books I have ever read. Set in 1970's Bombay the book has weird characters and their stories make you puke and ponder if such people do exist in the world. With words in both hindi and english; the author is successful in weaving a hallucinatory novel that takes you to the dirtiest drug snorting dens to shady sex bars. The pages move slowly at times and I must say not worth the dope! DO NOT BUY OR BORROW!
A Caveat: Just in case your willing to take the risk and read this book... ensure you are in a state of trance!
stories are all scrambled,u hv 2 find in ur own way 2 unscramble it 2 get 2 the real perspective of the story....anyways the st...Read More
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil is one of the worst books I have ever read. Set in 1970's Bombay the book has weird characters and th...Read More
Jeet Thayil’s debut novel Narcopolis (2012) marks a continuation in the Indian literary scene of a conscious awareness of...Read More
This book left me with mixed feelings. While the content is powerful, is it really necessary to make it so difficult to read? I...Read More