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Shuklaji Street is a gallery of oddities and weirdos — eunuchs, junkies, alcoholics, murderers, intellectuals — all of whom seem strange and surreal.It’s squalid and yet charmed, this contained, little world of narcotic yarns.If you’ve survived till this point, you’ll notice the meandering narrative is strangely compelling.It takes another 100 pages to get caught up in the memories of the different characters and figure out that the slippery monologues aren’t just Self trying to add a little gravitas to his profile and establish himself as cleverer than you, the reader.Using the form of the novel, instead of intoxicants, Thayil recaptures the high of an opium-induced trip.

The past slips into the present, weighing it down with sadness.

The year before, it was Madeleine whose complaint led to Kitty being put in a mental asylum where they subjected her to electrotherapy. Cracks appear in Isabel’s facade of being the superheroic combination of working woman, mother and wife.

Her husband and daughter both turn to Kitty in their time of need.

In 1971, Busner chances upon her and is struck by the idea that it might be possible to wake seemingly catatonic patients like her who were encephalitic rather than psychiatric cases.

A ward full of “enkies” is given a new drug named L-DOPA and briefly, the enkies wake up.

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