Start with Narcopolis

Jeet Thayil, author of Narcopolis, a Man Booker longlister

OK, I need to quit moping about the low number of Man Booker longlist books available in the United States and start reading.

Here’s what we’ve decided to read thus far, and the order in which we will read them:

1. Narcopolis
2. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
3) Skios

Not providing a longer list is a stall tactic, while we anticipate the MASSIVE CLOUT of my MIGHTY BLOG will SHAME THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY into setting these books free in the United States. We are also arguing about whether we will buy the few physical books one can quaintly send away for, but which are unavailable for download.

You’ll notice Bring Up the Bodies is not yet on our list. Expect it to show up as late as we can push it. Dan Campbell and I have both read it already, so I want to wait until the last possible minute before rereading it.

Now onto …

NARCOPOLIS by Jeet Thayil
Is there a trend here? Aren’t there a growing number of books about India? I can easily think of a half dozen I’ve read in recent years, most recently the nonfiction narrative by Katherine BooBehind the Beautiful Forevers. And did you notice the number of Man Booker winners with Indian themes or about India, including the Best Man Booker Winner of All Time as Decided by a Prestigious Panel of Judges?

Not that the winner’s list of past years predicts anything …  but I had to laugh when Jake Goretzki tweeted yesterday, “My tip for a dead cert #ManBookerPrize victory? Call your novel ‘The Sea, the Sea, the Sea.”

It would complete the trifecta, like Pluto completed the solar system for awhile there. There was John Banville’s The Sea in 2005, and Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea in 1978.


I think Goretzki is onto something.


Anyway, here’s are a very few thoughts on Narcopolis so far.
Don’t worry, no spoilers here:


Me: Dan, did you feel breathless after reading the prologue?
Dan: I did….talk about breakneck pacing!! I kept looking for a period, whilst gulping for air.


So, we’re waiting. Read the book, tell us what you think. Really. We want to listen.


  1. Speaking of bring up the bodies, did you read Wolf hall first. Do you need to read that book first or can Bring up the bodies be read as a stand alone?

    • Of course, you don’t HAVE to read Wolf Hall first, but I did. I think the second one could stand alone, but a lot of reasons people do what they do would be lost. In fact, I think it would be fun to read one right after the other, since in the short — was it a year? — between the two books, I forgot so much.

      Looking forward to hear what you think.

      • Thanks, I think I will start with ‘Wolf Hall’ first.. It might be good to review them together. Interesting question, do you think that the fact that this is a sequal might spoil it’s chances of a booker?

    • I’ve been thinking about this. Have any other sequels won? I am no good at predicting anything. I may have more to say on this tomorrow. As for the moment, I’m supposed to be driving to Cleveland.

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