Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis was the most satisfying shock in my reading this year. Maybe because I’m translating Beowulf each day and working on such short lines, I loved the manic freedom of Jeet’s sentences. The world he describes, of opium dens, is fascinating, and he was electric on stage in Australia and the Netherlands reciting his poetry and rapping the lyrics from his band. A great writer and performer. And I just have to say the very best performance I’ve ever seen on stage by any writer was by Jeanette Winterson this summer at the Edinburgh Lit Festival. Even impromptu, in response to audience questions, she was able to say the most beautiful things in perfect sentences.
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