Book Review: Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil

Narcopolis- Book Cover
Narcopolis- Book Cover

There are dark corners, blood stains, opium trips and bad memories in Jeet’s Narcopolis. In the small lanes of Shuklaji street, in the illicit brothel, in the opium dens and in the newly communist village in Guangdong are the characters of the book. None of them are the central character. In few pages you are tricked by a narrator who appears like a central character but in the end, you realize that every character is a support to the central plot.

It starts with the narrator, who is not in a rush and has a poetic touch. He then takes a long absence from the story and let others have the action. Rashid, the owner of the Opium Den and his side-kick, Dimple, eunuch who lives in the brothel, keeps the plot warm for Mr. Lee and Rumi. And then there were artists, murderers, pocket-maar (pick-pocket-er) and pathaar maar. Also staring are Zannat Aman from Hare Rama Hare Krishna, the cool Breeze on Juhu beach, the chaos of Grant Road, religious riots and invasion of crystal drug.

Based on 1970s till 2000s, Narcopolis is great read. It has a slow elegance, a pace of a happy turtle. The book was also shortlisted for Man Bookers Prize final list. I rated it 4 out 5 stars on goodreads 

Quote from the Book:“Then there are the addicts, the hunger addicts, the rage addicts, the poverty addicts , and power addicts, and the pure addicts who are addicted not to substances but to the oblivion and the tenderness the substances engender. An addict, if you don’t mind me saying so, is like a saint. What is a saint but someone who has cut himself off, voluntarily, from the world’s traffic and currency.” 

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. Nice review , the book sounds interesting.. 🙂


    1. Thank you. It is indeed interesting 🙂


  2. It sounds like such an interesting read. Let me see if I can pick it up.


    1. Yes, it is an interesting read and the literature is rich too. You will definitely enjoy it


  3. I’ve wanted to read this book since forever! “Slow elegance.” Wow, you make it sound just like I thought it’d be. Thanks, now I can’t wait to get my hands on it.


    1. Thank you Priya for your comment. Do let me know your views after reading the book


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