Shantaram: A Novel

Shantaram: A Novel

by Gregory David Roberts
4.4 310

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Overview

Shantaram: A Novel by Gregory David Roberts

"It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured."

So begins this epic, mesmerizing first novel by Gregory David Roberts, set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear.

Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay's hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere.

As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums, and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The search leads him to war, prison torture, murder, and a series of enigmatic and bloody betrayals. The keys to unlock the mysteries and intrigues that bind Lin are held by two people. The first is Khader Khan: mafia godfather, criminal-philosopher-saint, and mentor to Lin in the underworld of the Golden City. The second is Karla: elusive, dangerous, and beautiful, whose passions are driven by secrets that torment her and yet give her a terrible power.

Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas---this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and a passionate love for India at its heart. Based on the life of the author, it is by any measure the debut of an extraordinary voice in literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429908276
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 10/13/2004
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 944
Sales rank: 12,791
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Gregory David Roberts, the author of Shantaram and its sequel, The Mountain Shadow, was born in Melbourne, Australia. Sentenced to nineteen years in prison for a series of armed robberies, he escaped and spent ten of his fugitive years in Bombay—where he established a free medical clinic for slum-dwellers, and worked as a counterfeiter, smuggler, gunrunner, and street soldier for a branch of the Bombay mafia. Recaptured, he served out his sentence, and established a successful multimedia company upon his release. Roberts is now a full-time writer and lives in Bombay.
Gregory David Roberts, the author of Shantaram and its sequel, The Mountain Shadow, was born in Melbourne, Australia. Sentenced to nineteen years in prison for a series of armed robberies, he escaped and spent ten of his fugitive years in Bombay—where he established a free medical clinic for slum-dwellers, and worked as a counterfeiter, smuggler, gunrunner, and street soldier for a branch of the Bombay mafia. Recaptured, he served out his sentence, and established a successful multimedia company upon his release. Roberts is a now full-time writer and lives in Bombay.

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Shantaram 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 310 reviews.
ReadingQueen12-17 More than 1 year ago
In protest to the chronic tangent in which this book was written, I am presenting my review in outline format. Enjoy. What I liked: 1. Tremendous adventure with MANY unique and memorable characters. It's hard to believe that this book is pretty much a true story. 2. Incredible descriptions of India (Bombay in particular). I've never traveled to India but in speaking to people who have read this book AND been to India, I am assured he captures the essence of this country to a tee. Now the fact that a good part of the book takes place in a slum and I could just about smell the fecal festooned sidewalks through my mind's nostril is a different story, but still, very admirable descriptions. 3. To piggy back on #2, I appreciated the history and cultural context he provided along with the events that affected the story (conflict with Iran, Pakistan, etc.) To a history buff, this is always helpful and welcomed. What I Didn't Like: 1. The LENGTH - It is soul crushing and SO UNNECESSARY!!!! I would've catapulted this book to a 5-star rating if he had kept to the story telling, which honestly would have cut the length in half, and avoided the self aggrandizing, completely obnoxious philosophical bull sh*t!! I mean, ok, I get it, you went through hell and back, met some crazy powerful and charismatic people, found yourself, lost yourself, whatever. But when you're in the middle of telling me about a potentially huge drug bust, or about to go have sex with a woman with whom you've built up a tremendous amount of tension, I could give to flying f's about your thoughts about the universe moving towards the "ultimate complexity". I. just. don't. care. 2. The "Lesson per Chapter" Approach - Again, to piggy back on #1, the ratio of actual story telling to the author's introspective musings is truly 60/40. As I was saying earlier, in some cases these musings would pop up at a very inopportune moment in the story, but in most cases they appear in the closing of each chapter giving the book an infuriating "lesson of the day" feel to it. Furthermore, the predictable apparition of these delusional gems honestly cheapened the message and by the second half the book I always knew when a chapter was coming to a close because my eyes would start rolling and my sighs of exasperation would increase in strength and volume. 3. My Disappointment - I wanted so badly to love this book. On almost every book site of which I am a member it gets rave reviews. Multilple friends and family members recommended it to me with great enthusiasm. But, alas, I just did not like it. I finished it on Christmas Eve and had I not had several glasses of wine at that point, I would have thrown the book directly into the crackling fire out of pure spite.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A meaty book, almost 1000 pages long, and every page leaves you hungry for more. I fell in love with this book, though it was a chance encounter in the store that caused me to buy it. I will never regret buying this book. Wonderful!
bestbob More than 1 year ago
this is a very well written book that i enjoyed until the end. although it is quite lenghty, it is worth the journey.
Lubs402 More than 1 year ago
Amazing story and very well told. Cannot put it down (not a typical biography book). A+++
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This writer is fantastic. His manner of of writing is bright, with fresh discriptive visual cues. I love how the writer makes me feel a longing to know and understand India. The manner in which I am brought along with the main character, Lin, through the ztreets of Bombay, or on an all day and night trip to a small villiage to visit the family of a friend let me walk along side him as he learned how to love India. I want to read rhis for a second time.'7667y
S-NOOK-I More than 1 year ago
Fabulous writing, the descriptions of foods, smells, sights makes you feel like you are there with the author. His broken english diction as spoken by the native Indians is laugh out loud funny at times and very endearing. From a historical perspective, just as eye-opening as the accounts offered in the 2 books in the headline. Gripping drama, fantastic and colorful cast of characters.
BombayBoy More than 1 year ago
Great novel. Very nostalgic. He presents Bombay in its original light. The light of the near past. The description of the land, it's people and the author's relation with the city is beautiful. A must read for anybody who loves Bombay and anybody who wants to know about this magnanimous metropolis. And I met Greg Roberts in Leopold Cafe in Colaba in 2005 while I was on a trip home. I also got his autograph on a 10 Rupee note. It was a day I will never forget. The simplicity of the characters, the boldness of their friendship, the love between the characters, the ruthlessness of the city, the humid salty air and the hustle-bustle, the hugeness of the city and yet its ability to make you her own is captured very well by the author. A+ for Gregory David Roberts. You make me proud of being a Mumbaikar!
Inter-Medicine More than 1 year ago
Shantaram is a beautifully crafted novel telling the tale of an ex-con attempting to escape his formerly tumultuous life by assimilating into the bustling life of Bombay, India. I need say no more for it encompasses all the themes a modern masterpiece requires and never disappoints. It is a must read for the avid reader and the book's massive size shouldn't make anyone think twice before setting his/her hands on it. It is one of my favorite books of all time and I'd usually be hesitant to say this because I have read some other remarkable novels but this one stands out from the rest of the crowd. Keep an eye out for Gregory David Roberts in the future, because this book will surely elevate him to the status of other literary veterans of today, just as The Kite Runner did to Khaled Hosseini.
Carlacp More than 1 year ago
One of my all-time favorite books. I've read it twice so far. Roberts gives you a true-to-life feeling of what it would be like to live in the slums of Mumbai with all the experiences that would entail. His characters come alive. The fact that this is based on fact makes it even more compelling. Two of my daughters decided to travel to India after reading this book and said most of the young travelers there were either carrying the book with them or hoping to get a copy. They actually stayed in a hotel over Leopold's. By the way, they loved India and found it fascinating.
golden_sea_horse More than 1 year ago
Had I known exactly what I was getting into I might never have bought this book. If I¿d been cautioned about the aggression and violence I might have missed out on the honor, beauty, and love. The casual tone used to describe the underground world of forgery, murder, and drug and weapons trafficking contrasts with exquisite tales of beauty, betrayal, devastation, redemption, and hope. Shantaram puts a magnifying glass to the horrible living conditions of some of the worlds most beautiful people and how their paths cross with others living in the splendor of wealth and power. A window is opened onto the worlds of wild partying in Bombay, Bollywood movie making, and even guerilla warfare in the remote regions of Afghanistan. The sweltering heat and frigid chill can¿t compare with the passions that rule the characters in this book.
EllaNista More than 1 year ago
Tantalizing, This personal vivid depiction had me completely absorbed page by page.

"Every human heartbeat is a universe of possibilities."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have ever read! It is filled with danger, drama & romance. Very wordly & thought provoking & the perfect balance of fiction & fact. Also, great for men & women and anyone interested in Indian culture. It is very long but well worth the read! I heard there have been talks of a movie? I would def be one of the first in line.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book is great. when i got the book i was hesitant to start a 900+ page book. once i got in to it, was glad i did. the story is packed with adventure and thoughts on life and living. this is one of those books i want to own and not borrow from the library, because there are many parts i underlined. i posted some of the content on facebook to stimulate the minds of friends and maybe evoke a discussion. if you like books that are exciting and thought provoking, you will be glad you read this book.
Tara0811 More than 1 year ago
This by far is one of the greatest modern day novels ever written. The story is captivating, the characters rich, the background electrifying. The author really draws you in to his adventurous life in Bombay. I was sad when the book came to an end.
lthompson More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I couldn't put it down. It made me want to visit India. Very insightful and beautifully written. I highly recommend this book to everyone!
Justine_Meadows More than 1 year ago
A must read- he is a great storyteller, and the thread of truth woven throughout gives credibility to the fiction. Can't wait for his next book "A Mountain Shadow!"
Miss_Marjorie More than 1 year ago
Intelligent, romantic, and heroic - it was a pleasure to read the delicious words written to create the story, find out about the characters, and learn the lessons sprinked throughout the novel.
El_Guanaco More than 1 year ago
This is truly one of the most entertaining, enlightening, and extraordinary books i've read in my 35 years on this planet. The fact-based plot is intriguing while brilliant writing keeps the story fast-moving--despite its lumbering 800+ page count. Beyond the plot and the incredibly rich and deep character development, this novel was also brimming with incredible philosophical insight that kept me reading with a highlighter at the ready. I've recommended this book to over half a dozen people and each of them has loved, not liked but loved, this novel as much as i did. Due to it's length and sometimes dark language/themes that reflected the dire poverty and the Hindi mafiosos featured in the book, I wouldn't recommend it for book club though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read in a long time, and I am a bookseller and have read a lot of books. The writing is wonderful. It gives better insight into the people of India than anything I have ever read. The only bad part about the book is that it had to come to an end. I can't wait for more books from this author.
JohnelfromKrypton More than 1 year ago
I can say I enjoyed this novel more than any other since Pillars of The Earth by Ken Follet. The imagery and style of writing plus the story kept my attention immeasurably. If you liked Slum Dog Millianaire, or if someone described their experience, while in India, you will find this 936 page novel hard to put down. It is a book that gets around by word of mouth. I couldn't recommend it more highly.
Lilliput More than 1 year ago
This book was quite extraordinary! The stories the author lived through and the fact that he was so persisent in writing it!! He lost it and re-wrote 13 times I think...very impressive. I am able to relate to some of the experiences he had in the book as I have been to India many times before. While there was a whole section of the book which probably could have been deleted and the effect would have remained the same, it is still a very compelling story and worth reading.
Irving_Washington More than 1 year ago
Sure, he can go on and on about insignificant details, or how beautiful Karla is. But so what? I'm about a big a prickler as anyone when it comes to writing styles, but for some reason I was able to put my nitpicking on hold and just let the huge story of this man's life envelop me. If you don't love Prabaker, you don't have a heart.

This is the only novel that has made me cry.

Flawed, but beautiful nonetheless.

Bombay / Mumbai comes alive in these pages. You are there.
Guest More than 1 year ago
on the top of my list of the best reads I ever came across. it starts off a little slow, but there is no one plot, it is an autobio of the first rate. the author's writing is very descriptive . and so many profound sayings that you want to underline them. if they ever made a movie of this , the only one who could play the main character[author] would be Edward Norton!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An epic of India. Good read.
AngieJG More than 1 year ago
I want to start this review by saying that I have visited India in the past, and never really quite understood the allure. I was quite young at the time (21) and my world was very small. I was frightened by what I saw on the streets and could never quite process it until....I read this book (at 43). It took me 20 years and 900 pages, but I think I understand now. The author of this novel painted an accurate and compelling picture of the chaos and clashing cultures in India. But the most important thing he did was provide meaning and understanding into how it all works there, and why some people are so drawn to the country. This was not an autobiography, but clearly is based upon several of the author's amazing life events. Whether everything is true or not, is in no way important. It is a brilliantly written book. The characters - so many of them - are delivered to the reader on a platter. You know all of these people in the book, and you know them well. You feel pain when bad things happen to them, and happy when good things come their way. The reader, throughout the book, is always right there on the ground with the characters. It is almost as if you are a bird sitting on their shoulders. There is a lot of philosophy in the novel. I am not big into philosophy, but I do not think you can write a novel about India without digging deep. I try to avoid long reviews, but felt this one deserved more than others. It is truly a remarkable book. The characters, plot, setting, pacing are all there. I think that if you know about Indian culture or have visited the country, this novel might mean more to you.