Jeet Thayli was born on 13 October 1959 and he hails from Kerala. Thayli is the son of TJS George, an author and editor. However, he completed his education outside India. He got a masters degree in fine arts from Sarah Lawrence College. Jeet Thayli is a multifaceted personality, apart from writing profession, he is also an ardent musician and sometimes worked as a journalist. His popularity mainly rests on these collections of poems- These Errors Are Correct, Apocalypso, and English and Gemini. His debut novel Narcopolis, which brought him DSC prize for South Asian Literature, also got shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and went to the finalists. And to his credit, one more credential stays that he was the first Indian to win the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. He is also a recipient of some renowned awards like Sahitya Akademi Award, The Hindu Literary Prize and others.
He went through many unproductive years and was suffering from liquor addiction. This thing in his life gets the reflection in his latest novel Narcopolis. It is believed and also according to the poet and author, Thayil himself, it turned him to the addiction of composing poems and Thayil was happy with this new lust or addiction! Moreover, we all know what happened after that – Thayil went on to become one of the most-known poets among the second-generation of English poets in India.
Narcopolis takes us back to Mumbai of the 1980s. It is a fictitious record of the persons, who were once opium-addicted in Mumbai. The inspiration for this novel came from his own addiction to drug. He found solace or he comforts himself by confessing his own committed deeds. He shares the very thought and feeling of a certain Mumbaikar who believes life is nothing but to enjoy. Most of the characters in the novel are self-satisfied and for them the priority for money, wine and sex are more than anything else. He has vividly illustrated the day to day lifestyle of Mumbaikar. Jeet also worked as editor of the Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets, 60 Indian Poets and a collection of essays.
He often found himself overwhelmed by drugs and alcohol, expresses the pleasure and pain of the intoxication throughout the poems. He is more personal in his works and does not want to toil with Indianness temper as other Indian poets did. He gives more importance to emotions than Indian environment. And maybe that’s why we find him respected but rather less famous and perhaps oblivion – his penetration among the reading audience compared to that of Chetan or others is almost negligible if not a nought!
compiled by Ravi and edited by Amit