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Posts Tagged ‘Jeet Thayil’

Today, I started reading ‘Narcopolis’ by Jeet Thayil (it has been shortlisted for the Booker prize this year), for book club. The first page went like this :

 

 

“Bombay, which obliterated its own history by changing its name and surgically altering its face, is the hero or heroin of this story and since I’m the one who’s telling it and you don’t know who I am, let me say that we’ll get to the who of it but not right now, because now there’s time enough not to hurry, to light the lamp and open the window to the moon and take a moment to dream of a great and broken city, because when the day starts its business I’ll have to stop, these are night-time tales that vanish in sunlight like vampire dust – wait now, light me up so we do this right, yes, hold me steady to the lamp, hold it, hold, good, a slow pull to start with, to draw the smoke low into the lungs, yes, oh my, and another for the nostrils, and a little something sweet for the mouth, and now we can begin at the beginning with the first time at Rashid’s when I stitched the blue smoke from pipe to blood to eye to I and out into the blue world – and now you’re getting to the who of it and I can tell you that I, the I you’re imagining at this moment, a thinking someone who’s writing these words, who’s arranging time in a logical chronological sequence, someone with an overall plan, an engineer-god in the machine, well, that isn’t the I who’s telling this story, that’s the I who’s being told, thinking of my first pipe at Rashid’s, trawling my head for images, a face, a bit of music, or the sound of someone’s voice, trying to remember what it was like, the past, recall it as I would the landscape and light of a foreign country….”

 

And on and on it went – one sentence stretching on to six more pages. Who said that the long Proustian sentence was dead? It is alive and kicking! Thanks to Jeet Thayil for showing us that. Can’t wait to read the rest of the book.

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