An opium filled opus if there was one, Narcopolis has Thayil take the garb of fiction to document a time of hallucination, ennui and quiet decay through a motley group of characters, covering three decades in old, derelict Bombay. But what stands out in remarkable swing to the rest of the conventionally written content is the prologue titled Something for the Mouth. In the hardcover edition, the sole prologue sentence stretches for six and half pages. It is a breathtaking piece of literature - telling of a drug addict's delirium, brilliance and also his doom. Here is an excerpt of the first few lines:
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 - ....
(Article by Snehith Kumbla)