Three cheers for Indian poet & writer Jeet Thayil, whose novel Narcopolis has made it into the Man Booker long list. Narcopolis takes place in a 1970s Mumbai opium den and is loosely inspired by Mr. Thayil’s own life experiences. The book has been praised for its poetry like prose and the compelling characters that bring the underbelly of Bombay to life. Here’s a little taste:
Bombay, which obliterated its own history by changing its name and surgically altering its face, is the hero or heroin of this story, and since I’m the one who’s telling it and you don’t know who I am, let me say that we’ll get to the who of it but not right now, because now there’s time enough not to hurry, to light the lamp and open the window to the moon and take a moment to dream of a great and broken city, because when the day starts its business I’ll have to stop, these are nighttime tales that vanish in sunlight, like vampire dust—
I will be getting my copy this week! While most of us are happy to see yet another Indian writer make it to the long list of such a prestigious literary prize, there are others who condemn it. Read my response to Ashley Telllis’s reaction.