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The book, Shantaram, begins with the entry of a man bearing a New Zealand passport that identifies him as ‘Lindsay’ into downtown Mumbai (Bombay). He is actually an escaped convict from Australia, who flees to a strange land to lose himself and start his life all over again.
On his first day in Mumbai he meets a tout guide, a young man named Prabaker. Prabaker’s irrepressibly ebullient personality and his intimate knowledge of the city brings him close to Lin (as he calls Lindsay). Prabaker soon becomes Lin’s friend and guide in the strange city. He teaches Lin how to converse in Marathi, the language of the region.
Adjusting to a new way of life, Lin, for a while, settles down in a remote region of the city, one of the poorest areas, and sets up an illicit health clinic there. Meanwhile, he also gets to know the street life of Bombay in all its varied hues, the beggars and prostitutes, the holy men and the gangsters, the actors and soldiers, and Indians and exiles.
Meanwhile, Lin meets another person who also changes his life, a beautiful woman named Karla, a Swiss-American who seems to have a lot of friends in the expatriate community. He falls in love with her, but is not sure if his love is returned.
Lin’s life suddenly takes another twist. He is arrested and thrown into prison, for carrying out tasks for the local mafia. When he comes out, he begins to work for one of the powerful heads of the Bombay mafia, Abdel Khader Khan, a criminal and philosopher who becomes a mentor to Lin.
Lin’s search for a new life leads him into war, murder, betrayals, and more intrigue. His life, he now finds, is being manipulated by two people- Khader Khan and the beautiful, enigmatic, and dangerous Karla.
About the Author
Like the main character in the novel, Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts was a heroin addict and a convicted robber. He escaped from prison in Australia and lived for 10 years in Mumbai. He was recaptured in Frankfurt and sent to prison again.
While serving out his sentence, Roberts began writing the novel, Shantaram. He finished the novel after he was released and it was published. The name of the book was the name he was given by the mother of his Indian friend, a name that means ‘A Man of God’s Peace’. He is also working on the screenplay for a movie adaptation of the book.
After spending some years in Germany and France, Roberts returned to Mumbai and is now involved in charitable work to help the city’s poor who live in the slums.
|Publisher||Little, Brown Book Group|
|Number of Pages||944 Pages|
I had put off reading Shantaram because of its bulk. But when I did, I couldn't put it down. I lived with Lin, and experienced Mumbai like I have never done. Its a book which can become part of your consciousness, part of your thinking and living. Its one of those rare one's which can change one's perception subtly, for the better. A must must read for everybody.
A Modern classic! Only a classic can make you feel humble as you read it. This book does this to make you realize the possibilities of human experience.
Read it if you belong to Mumbai. Read it if you don't belong to Mumbai.
Either way this book will transform you.
The experience of reading Shantaram is like that of drinking a fine scotch. With every chapter, you get a new high. The last few chapters create an incredible levels of curiosity and shock simultaneuosly. And then, the last chapter, in a clever way, lays the basis for the sequel to Shantaram. It leaves you wanting for more. It is rumoured that Gregory Roberts has been working on the sequel for the past 4 years. I have to say that I find it difficult to wait for the sequel. You just fall in love with this character and wish him a happy ending. But that doesn't happen. It isn't a bad ending, either. It is an incomplete end and therefore leaves you asking for more. Without an iota of doubt, this is one of the most incredible fiction out there. Gregory needed to write it thrice because his captors in jail destroyed the first two versions when they found out. Last but not the least, Mumbai rocks yaar!!
Warning: Shantaram is a 933 page and 42 chapter long masterpiece. Some people, like me, will find it boring at some points...but u need to be patient to enjoy this. Compared to The Godfather, this novel moves at a slower pace and is more philosophical.
Written by Gregory David Roberts, this novel is an account of the author’s life spanning over a decade. Gregory Roberts, an Australian was a heroin addict and to satiate his need for heroin, he indulged in many crimes in Australia and then was sentenced to nineteen years of imprisonment. After serving two years in jail, he along with another escaped form the prison and thus became Australia’s one of the most wanted men.
His journey after he escaped from jail took him to many countries and continents. Finally he lands in India and India becomes his home for many years. Soon after he enters India, he assumes a fake name (Lindsay a.k.a Linbaba) and identity. He develops a deep friendship with his guide in Bombay, Prabhakar who is not well educated but very lively and honest person. After a few days Prabhakar takes Lin to his native and his parents name Lin as Shantaram (that is where the title of the novel comes from) In the meantime Lin falls in love with an American, Karla.
After a few months, Lin shifts his location to the slum and begins to stay there. With a preliminary medicine training he had, he serves in the slum as their doctor and rescues many during the break of cholera epidemic. Lin gets accustomed to the way of life of the slum and earns respect and love of the people of the slum. Lin is jailed for an unknown reason (which he later finds out) and is tortured for a few months. The person who gets him out of jail is Khader Khan, a mafia don.
After he gets back from jail he joins the mafia of Khaderbhai and learns many tricks like black money trading, drug trafficking, making of fake passports and begins to earn a decent income form the mafia. The brotherhood of mafia is stronger and he begins to see Khader as a father figure and Khader sees Lin as his own son. The mafia had people from many nations like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Egypt etc.
In the meantime Khader, an Afghanistani decides to fight the soviets who have intruded his country. So, they decide to take part in the war and all including Lin leave for Afghanistan. What happens in the war, how Lin comes to know about the betrayal from his lover and the man he revered, what he does after returning to Bombay forms the later part of the story.
The way in which the author has expressed himself is simply brilliant. The narration is witty, humorous, poetic at times, philosophical, replete with witty one-liners. Unlike many foreign authors, he is able to see the Indian life without any prejudices. The author has more or less succeeded in capturing the essence of India and Indians. His immense love for India, Bombay in particular is expressed in many ways. The book is huge of over 900 pages but it's worth every page.The sad thing is that this is the only novel he’s written so far. I wish he’d written more.
This provides a brilliant material for a potential Hollywood blockbuster. It has all the qualities of being made into a great movie. Someone should seriously try this. This book is easily one of the best novels I’ve ever read, a recommended read indeed.
Gregory David Roberts aka Shantaram is one of the Greatest writers I've come across.Shantaram is a semi autobiographical of the life of GDR.He writes with perfection.He's a born writer and I must say Shantaram is one of the 100 books an Indian must read in a lifetime.It has elements of a travelogue,historical novel,a crime fiction book.Its long and took me time to read.But you'll be hooked on to it once you start..The book is also very controversial account of his life and exposes corruption in police system and the criminal-police-politician nexus in a very interesting manner and the essence of crime in Indian society.Its also a book about the old world Bombay,slums,about Karla saraneen and his life in South Bombay,Cafe Leopold,cafe Mondegar and every bit of south Bombay.Its like knowing everything about south Bombay without even being there.It renewed my interest in South Bombay.He talks of Love,Heroin addiction and foreigners with brilliance yet with aesthetic sense which is what makes it so rich and yet humane.Shantaram is a Fugitive and yet so intelligent.Its too addictive.
This book is a great read. Became one of my most loved and cherished books. I dont want this book to end at all. Interesting a...Read More
A story which takes you to the streets of Mumbai and portrays the "other side" of the city..............................Read More
Breathtaking story telling....it will bind you to the plot till the end....the struggle of a man in his rise and fall and rise....Read More
Exhilarating and brilliant. A must read for any mumbaikar. Right from the moment i read the summary of what the story is, i lov...Read More
If , you have come across the term , modern classic but never understood what genre it actually is , read this book . It can b...Read More