Friday 13 April 2012

Christy's Review: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

By Gregory David Roberts

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.

Christy’s Review:

This is a book for grown-ups. It is serious. It is sad. It is uplifting. It is every psychologist’s nightmare-com-true.

What can I possibly say about this book? I love. Not enough. It’s one of my favorites. Doesn’t cut it. THISBOOKMAKESMYHEARTSINGANDMOURNANDLAUGHAND CRY. Exclamation mark repeated several dozen times! (It really is one of my favorite books of all times.)

Forget the fact that most of the subject matter in this book and in the main character’s life is in direct conflict with most of my personal beliefs. Well, let me clarify… This book is about a man’s search for redemption and peace within his own continually muddled, messed up, mis-stepped life. Most of the troubles he has are of his own making, well, probably all of them are.

But the struggle! The utterly astonishing, heartbreaking journey the character takes is divine in it’s soul-searching-ness. You’ll really have to read this one to understand. Couple the amazing, harrowing storyline with the fact that Gregory David Roberts is able to craft sentences like unto nothing I’ve ever read in their poetic, touching genius, and this book is a masterpiece.

It’s a heavy read. And it’s huge. Several hundred pages. It’s a volume. So, read it if you’re looking for a gorgeous book about one man’s struggle to make peace with himself. Read it with a pen in hand to underline your favorite quotes!

Quote: “Some truths about yourself are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. And some things are just so sad that only your soul can do the crying for you.”

(BTW-Picking just one quote from this book was torture!)

PS: Johnny Depp bought the motion picture rights for this book… Should be interesting!


  1. Cool little tidbit about Johnny Depp...

  2. I was thinking the same as Jolene!! Hahaha.
    Great review though.. even though I'm a teen.. So I'm gonna hold of reading it!

  3. Jolene - I'm really excited to see what Johnny Depp does with this! It would be a departure from the book for him to play the main character, as the author describes himself as an "unattractive" man more than once.

    Lucy - I'm so glad you enjoyed the review! I hope you pick this one up in a few years, it's truly a great read. :)

  4. Thanks for writing a great review. Now, I can't wait to read Shantaram. I just requested it from the library!
    Beth :-)

  5. Beth - so glad you enjoyed it! Please let me know what you thought when you've finished!! :)


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