From TLC book tours:
Narcopolis opens in Bombay in the late 1970s, as its narrator first arrives from New York to find himself entranced with the city’s underworld, in particular an opium den and attached brothel. A cast of unforgettably degenerate and magnetic characters works and patronizes the venue, including Dimple, the eunuch who makes pipes in the den; Rumi, the salaryman and husband whose addiction is violence; Newton Xavier, the celebrated painter who both rejects and craves adulation; Mr. Lee, the Chinese refugee and businessman; and a cast of poets, prostitutes, pimps, and gangsters.
Decades pass to reveal a changing Bombay, where opium has given way to heroin from Pakistan and the city’s underbelly has become ever rawer. Those in their circle still use sex for their primary release and recreation, but the violence of the city on the nod and its purveyors have moved from the fringes to the center of their lives. Yet Dimple, despite the bleakness of her surroundings, continues to search for beauty-at the movies, in pulp magazines, at church, and in a new burka-wearing identity.
After a long absence, the narrator returns to find a very different Bombay in 2004. Those he knew are almost all gone, but the heights of the passion he feels for them and for the city is revealed.
Pages: 304 (hardback)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Source: Received a copy as part of TLC book tour
When I was invited to join the TLC book tour for Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil, I was excited. I am Indian-American and have read a fair amount of South Asian literature. I have also been to India quite a few times to visit family and even spent some time in Bombay. When I read the description of the book, I knew that the story I was going to read would be very different from the world I know in India which includes visiting the homes of various relatives with a few dining excursions and tourist destinations thrown into the mix. My knowledge of the "underworld" was limited to reading news articles about the rise of addiction and seeing one dimensional depictions of addicts in Bollywood movies.
As I got into the story, I was definitely transported to a different world. The narrator made me feel as though I was in a drug induced haze. I was frequently confused about who was speaking and whether I was reading about reality or a hallucination. I frequently had to stop in the middle of chapters to tend to my infant daughter who did not always respect my desire to read for a good stretch of time :) My frequent starting and stopping contributed to my difficulty with getting into the story.
Another thing which made it tough for me to get into the story was that I did not feel much empathy towards many of the characters. The exception to that sentiment is Dimple. I found her to be a bright spot in the story. I could relate to her trying to make a home in the place where she was abandoned. I loved the moments when we have a glimpse into her childhood, particularly the interactions she has with her mother.
Even though the subject matter and writing style were tough for me to follow, I was glad to read the book and happy that it exists. When books are from a certain region or written by an author of a particular gender or race, I think there can be an expectation that a story will have a certain tone or point of view. It is awesome when a piece of work comes into the world that illustrates that the experiences of a people or a region are diverse and complex.
You can see what other tour hosts are saying about the book by visiting here.
I am counting this book for the following challenges:
- 2012 South Asian Reading Challenge: The author is South Asian
- 2012 Global Reading Challenge: I am counting it for the continent of Asia.
- World Party Challenge: Way late (or early), but I am counting for the September book from India.
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, the shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before--and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love
Pages: 374 (paperback)
Rating: 9 out of 10
Source: Borrowed from my sister-in-law
I had been hearing about The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for quite awhile, but did not really have much interest in the books. With the movie out, the number of recommendations for the book increased. The Partners and Professors book club selected the first book for the May meeting. I was excited for a chance to see what the fuss was about and was also happy that I could borrow a copy instead of adding my name to the already long wait list at the library.
My sister-in-law predicted that I would finish the book in a few days. I was skeptical given that I am with my daughter all day and during her naps I fill my time with fun things like eating, getting dressed, and napping. I was surprised and excited to discover that all of those things fell to the side. I grew completely absorbed with the Games and wondering what would happen next. Thanks to extra helpings of caffeine and a daughter who slept relatively well during those days, I finished the book in two days.
The premise of the book is incredibly sad and fucked up-- kids fighting to the death in Games that are meant to entertain the masses. In the first few pages, I was not sure if I was going to enjoy the book. However, another, more powerful and positive , story emerged. I LOVE Katniss Everdeen. She is smart, brave, and just. I appreciate that the story is about how she questions authority, works to figure out how to navigate this unfair circumstances to have a just outcome. While there is romance, I appreciate she is not a damsel in distress. She uses her brains to survive. She is conflicted about her feelings for the two important men in her life, but that uncertainty is not the only piece of her personality that we get to know.
I have already borrowed the other two books in the series. In addition to the book club discussion, I am counting the Hunger Games for the following challenge:
2012 Global Reading Challenge: I am using it to fulfill the category of Seventh Continent.
Last year, I missed my goal by one book. I have been successful with this challenge in the past and I am hoping that I will have success in 2012. I am committing to the Chubby Chunkster Level. The details are below.
The Challenge runs from January 1, 2012 to Decemeber 31, 2012
Definition of a chunkster:
A chunkster is 450 pages or more of ADULT literature, whether non-fiction or fiction. A chunkster should be a challenge.
You must pick a level of participation:
- The Chubby Chunkster – this option is for the readers who want to dabble in large tomes, but really doesn't want to commit to much more than that. FOUR Chunksters is all you need to finish this challenge.
- The Plump Primer - this option is for the slightly heavier reader who wants to commit to SIX Chunksters over the next twelve months.
- Do These Books Make my Butt Look Big? - this option is for the reader who can't resist bigger and bigger books and wants to commit to SIX Chunksters from the following categories: 2 books which are between 450 - 550 pages in length; 2 books which are 551 - 750 pages in length; 2 books which are GREATER than 750 pages in length (for ideas, please refer to the book suggestions pagefor some books which fit into these categories).
- Mor-book-ly Obese - This is for the truly out of control chunkster. For this level of challenge you must commit to EIGHT or more Chunksters of which three tomes MUST be 750 pages or more. You know you want to.....go on and give in to your cravings.
Want Suggestions of what to read?
Check out the Chunky Book Suggestions page. Throughout the year, we will be adding new books to this page.
To review or not to review, that is the quesion...Reviews are not mandatory, but they are strongly encouraged. We will be putting up a Mr. Linky at the beginning of the challenge for links to your reviews. We will also be posting a Mr. Linky for wrap up posts at the end of the challenge.
From Swapna's site, here are some basics:
There are two ways for a book to qualify for the South Asian Challenge
(1) A book must be by a South Asian author. For these purposes, South Asia includes the following countries: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives.
2) A book must be about South Asia. In this case, it can be set in a South Asian country or be about South Asians living abroad. It can also be a biography or memoir of a South Asian, or of a non-South Asian traveling or working in South Asia. In this case, the authordoes not need to be South Asian, as long as the subject matter focuses on the region, peoples, or cultures in some way.
Any type book qualifies, as long as it meets one of the two guidelines above - a cookbook, short story or essay collection, travel guide - I’m not picky!
What dates does the challenge run?
January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012
What are the levels?
I can choose how many books I want to read. I am hoping to match my number last year, so I will pick three.
As in the past, the Global Reading Challenge (GRC) challenges you to expand your reading boundaries, go where you haven't been before, move a little outside your comfort zone.
The Easy Challenge
Read one novel from each of these continents in the course of 2012:
Asia: Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil Most of the book takes place in India. You can find my review here.
Australasia/Oceania: March by Geraldine Brooks The author was born in Australia and still spends some time there. My review is here.
Europe: The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht. Book takes place in Croatia. You can find my review here.
North America: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult The book takes place in the United States. My review is here.
South America (please include Central America where it is most convenient for you)
The Seventh Continent (here you can either choose Antarctica or your own ´seventh´ setting, eg the sea, the space, a supernatural/paranormal world, history, the future – you name it): The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins The book takes place in the future. You can find my review here.
From your own continent: try to find a country, state or author that is new to you.