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Jeet Thayil

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, a rich and hallucinatory novel, set around a Bombay opium den as the city transforms itself over three decades.

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Shuklaji Street, in Old Bombay. In Rashid’s opium room a young woman holds a long-stemmed pipe over a flame as men sprawl and mutter in the gloom. In Shuklaji Street they say you introduce only your worst enemy to opium. But then whispers build of a new terror, something that shifts the tenuous balance of survival for the city’s nameless, invisible poor.

A rich, hallucinatory dream of a novel, Narcopolis captures the Bombay of the 1970s in all its compelling squalor. With a cast of pimps, pushers, poets and gangsters, it is a lyrical and unforgettable journey into a sprawling underworld.

The reader is Robertson Dean.


Jeet Thayil was born in Kerala, India in 1959 and educated in Hong Kong, New York and Bombay. He is a songwriter and guitarist, and has published four collections of poetry. He is the editor of The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets (2008). He currently lives in New Delhi.

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