I was hooked by the five-page / one sentence prologue. But the magic dissipated soon after that. The story centers around an opium den, its employees and customers. At the heart of the story is Dimple, with a name and a history that are both too complicated to explain. The story meanders and in the last third takes a turn toward speechifying, some of it the familiar rantings of a person alarmed at the changes in society. Perhaps I don’t know enough to appreciate the allusions to the character of Bombay and the politics and economics of India, but at a certain point, I just wanted to get to the end. How and why this book became shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, I do not know.

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