Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Book Review: Narcopolis

Jeet Thayil's debut novel Narcopolis is not for the faint of heart. It takes readers on a thirty-year journey through the depths of Bombay's seedy underground. Death, drugs, prostitution, and perversion take the lead roles in this book. The city of Bombay is explored in a way that it has not been by modern authors (at least to the best of my knowledge). The opium dens, the brothels -- they are only the beginning of what the city has in store for these characters. 

My opinion boils down to this: If you like poetry, specifically modern poetry, you will like this book. If poetry confuses you or you dislike it for any other reason, you might not like this book. Or, perhaps, it will take you a while to get used to the style. If that's the case and you went into the book thinking you didn't like poetry, then, hey, give poetry another try! You might love it now!

I was thinking this the entire time I read the book -- that this book was like one long poem, and it was hard for me to remember I was reading a novel. Then I read the dust jacket summary and author information (which I try to avoid doing before I read the book so I don't taint my feelings about the book), and it turns out the author has published several volumes of poetry and this is his first novel. There you go.

I was also thinking while I read this book that there are certain people I know who would LOVE this book (Brandon, if you're reading this, let me know if you want to borrow this book!) and there were people who I would NEVER think of lending this book to (sorry mom), and I was wondering if that meant anything about the book itself. Can I fully recommend this book when I feel this way? But honestly, I think I always feel that way about the books I read to some extent. This book just has such a strong tone that it is all the more obvious. It begs for a certain type of reader, and that doesn't make it a book that is "less recommendable," it just means that author has a strong voice, which is a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

If you are up for a startling read that has a beautiful voice, then this is the book for you.

If you'd like to read what other reviewers on the TLC Tour had to say, the schedule of tours can be found HERE.


  1. You're absolutely correct about this book needing a certain type of reader. There are lots of people I couldn't share this book with, but I loved it! It is, as I said, unique.

  2. I also felt that this book was very stylistically different, and while I enjoyed it, there were certain scenes that turned my stomach. I agree with both you and Nancy that this is not a book for everyone, and as much as I cringed at some of the scenes, there were some great moments of beauty as well. Great review today!

  3. It sounds like this is a book that will greatly appeal to some people and not at all to others. I'm glad that you were able to appreciate it! Thanks for being on the tour.


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