The main speaker Jeet Thayil, who has been shortlisted for Man Booker Prize to be announced in London on October 16 is the star attraction. The Kerala-born poet-musician will read from his first novel Narcopolis that narrates his own experiences veering around the drug dens of Mumbai.
Narcopolis is Jeet Thayil’s luminous debut novel that delves about drugs, sex, death, perversion, addiction, love, and god, and has more in common in its subject matter with the work of William S. Burroughs or Baudelaire than with the subcontinent’s familiar literary lights.
Narcopolis opens in Bombay in the late 1970s, as its narrator first arrives from New York to find himself entranced with the city’s underworld, in particular an opium den and attached brothel. A cast of unforgettably degenerate and magnetic characters works and patronizes the venue, including Dimple, the eunuch who makes pipes in the den; Rumi, the salaryman and husband whose addiction is violence; Newton Xavier, the celebrated painter who both rejects and craves adulation; Mr. Lee, the Chinese refugee and businessman; and a cast of poets, prostitutes, pimps, and gangsters.