Narcopolis, By Jeet Thayil


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The Independent Culture

Born in Kerala, educated in Hong Kong and New York, musician and poet Thayil has plumbed the depths of 1970s Bombay for this prize-winning debut.

The novel's several story lines, born out of the city's complex heritage, converge on Rashid's opium establishment – a favourite haunt of pimps, pushers and gangsters. It's here we meet Dimple, a part-time prostitute and full-time addict who acts as the novel's emotional and moral compass.

A junkie novel that runs scared of the usual clichés, Thayil conjures up a now retro underworld in dreamy and energetic prose.