Review from a Transgressive Fiction Fan
After reading some of the reviews below I feel compelled to add my two cents. This may not be a pretty world Thayil creates, but guess what? Worlds like this exist. I should know.
As an ex-heroin addict myself, I vouch 100% for Thayil’s depiction of the life of addicts. Whether they are in India, NYC, New Orleans, etc., there are certain things that make the experience universal. Thayil writes about the desperation, enslavement, degradation, beauty and poetry of the addict’s life with mastery. But the thing that makes Narcopolis extraordinary is the compassion he applies to his characters.
Addicts are the ultimate outsiders. They scratch around the perimeters of life, seeking redemption and connection. I’m surprised by the lack of care and imagination in some of the other reviews. Did Thayil upset some’s expectations of ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’? Baaaa. Since when should artists adhere to those ideas?
My advice is, open your hearts and minds and let Thayil show you another side of life. It’s not all ugly, trust me.
“Insightful” Review from a Mainstream Reader
I just about stopped short of hating this book. All I’ve taken away with me is that Bombay is a city of squalor, drug addicts, sex traders and assorted degenerates.