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Narcopolis

by Jeet Thayil

Be prepared for a walk on the darkest side of humanity’s streets within the pages of this Booker short-listed novel. Set mainly in the hellish opium dens and brothels to be found in the squalid underworld of 70's Bombay, the harrowing descriptions of degradation and exploitation are offset by the psychedelic poetry of the writing. A book to make you angry, especially if you are female, but a rewarding read, nonetheless.

Extract

Sit down, he said, and I'll explain it to you. Garad comes from Pakistan. Garad, you know what it means in Urdu? Waste. This is the unrefined shit they throw away when they make good-quality maal for junkies in rich countries. Even the worst junkie in America-Shamerica wouldn't touch garad. That's why the Pakis send it here. We buy it happily and ask for more. And to give it a special kick we add more shit to it and call it chemical. Now you might say this is some kind of special ingenuity, a skill, to take bad shit and make it worse. But I'll tell you what it really is, we're kartharnak sisterfuckers, all of us on Shuklaji Street, we deserve to die, we're only happy when our heads are touching the floor and we're praying to the god of garad.

Parallels

Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr.
The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
 

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