Indian writer Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis shortlisted for 2012 Booker Prize

India News Bulletin Desk

Six books including Indian writer Jeet Thayil’s novel Narcopolis was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize award.

In addition to the Indian author, four British authors and one Malaysian author had made it to the final shortlist. But Thayil lost to British author Hilary Mantel who won the Booker Prize award

The winner of the 2012 Man Booker Prize award was announced on Tuesday, October 16 at London’s Guildhall. Each of the shortlisted writers received a £2,500 cash award while Mantel received a further £50,000.

Jeet Thayil reading his book - Narcopolis - at the book launch. Narcopolis has been shortlisted for 2012 Booker Prize
Image: YouTube

Man Booker Prize award is the annual award for contemporary fiction in English language, by a writer from the Commonwealth Nations and Ireland.

The selected books for 2012 Booker Prize award were:

  1. Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil (Indian)
  2. The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (Malaysian)
  3. Swimming Home by Deborah Levy (British)
  4. Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (British) - the 2012 Booker Prize award winner
  5. The Lighthouse by Alison Moore (British)
  6. Umbrella by Will Self (British)

The 2012 shortlist included two debut novels (including Narcopolis), two former shortlisted authors and one previous winner (Hilary Mantel). English novelist Mantel won the Booker Prize in 2009 for her book Wolf Hall. Her 2012 shortlist Bring up the Bodies is a sequel to the previous novel and has been widely acclaimed since its release in May 2012. Mantel went on to win her second Booker Prize award. 

Narcopolis, published by UK’s Faber & Faber in 2012 is Jeet Thayil’s debut novel. Thayil, 53, is a poet, novelist and musician from Kerala, South India.

In addition to being an author, he has worked as a journalist in Mumbai, Bangalore and in New York. In his literary works, Thayil explores issues such as love and sex, pain and pleasures of alcohol in a candid manner.

The book, Narcopolis, is set in old Bombay of the 1970s and spans across three decades. It brings alive the vivid character of Bombay city and its people which include poets, eunuchs, the businessmen and the Bombay underworld. It also alludes to Maoist China and makes for a “gripping and electrifying prose”.

Had he won, Thayil would have become the fourth Indian author to win the Booker Prize. Previously, Aravind Adiga had won the Booker Prize in 2008 for his novel The White Tiger and Kiran Desai in 2006 for her novel The Inheritance of Loss. Arundhati Roy gave India its first Booker Prize in 1997 with her novel The God of Small Things.

The panel of experts judging the 44th Booker Prize shortlist included Sir Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement; literary critic Dinah Birch; historian and writer Amanda Foreman; actor Dan Stevens and academic, writer and reviewer Bharat Tandon.

"We loved the shock of language shown in so many different ways and were exhilarated by the vigour and vividly defined values in the six books that we chose – and in the visible confidence of the novel's place in forming our words and ideas," Stothard, chair of judges, said of the shortlist.

Narcopolis, Faber and Faber, London, 2012, ISBN 978-0-571-27576-2


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