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Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
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Shantaram (2003)

by Gregory David Roberts

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Shantaram (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,0402031,139 (4.15)1 / 301
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. Shantaram is a novel based on the life of the author, Gregory David Roberts. In 1978 Roberts was sentenced to nineteen years imprisonment as punishment for a series of robberies of building-society branches, credit unions, and shops he had committed while addicted to heroin. In July 1980 he escaped from Victoria's maximum-security prison in broad daylight, thereby becoming one of Australia's most wanted men for what turned out to be the next ten years. For most of this period he lived in Bombay. He set up a free health clinic in the slums, acted in Bollywood movies, worked for the Bombay mafia as a forger, counterfeiter, and smuggler and, as a gun-runner, resupplied a unit of mujaheddin guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan. This is the setting of Shantaram. Apart from having this highly unusual personal background, Greg Roberts is a very gifted writer. His book is a blend of vivid dialogue, unforgettable characters, amazing adventures, and superb evocations of Indian life. It can be read as a vast, extended thriller, as well as a superbly written meditation on the nature of good and evil. It is a compelling tale of a hunted man who had lost everything - his home, his family, and his soul - and came to find his humanity while living at the wildest edge of experience.… (more)
  1. 80
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    The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (jtho)
    jtho: Another great story set in India that shows us both the seedy sides and the beauty.
  3. 20
    Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry (mcenroeucsb)
  4. 20
    Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta (firebird013)
    firebird013: Another vivid exploration of Bombay - with much autobiographical detail
  5. 20
    A Passage to India by E. M. Forster (Booksloth)
  6. 00
    Animal's People by Indra Sinha (Booksloth)
  7. 00
    What Is the What by Dave Eggers (jtho)
    jtho: Two favourites - both with almost unbelievable stories based on real life, hardship, humour, amazing friendship, and the benefit of hindsight.
  8. 01
    The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri (Limelite)
    Limelite: Another sweeping story about the lives of the poor in Mumbai set during the same time period but told by an Indian narrator rather than a white Australian.
  9. 01
    Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (kaledrina)
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English (185)  French (4)  Italian (4)  German (3)  Swedish (3)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Finnish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (203)
Showing 1-5 of 185 (next | show all)
I loved the close look at Mumbai and expats. The main character was a little larger than life to say the least. It sometimes felt like a real yarn, but an enjoyable one. One can't help but ask the question, "how much of this really happened, or happened that way?" But, hey, it's fiction and it takes you to new worlds, thoughts, and people. It's good book. It's long. ( )
  rsairs | May 20, 2020 |
This is a big - thick book, the type you would beat an intruder with if you grabbed it and it would hurt be it the hardback or the paperback. Coming in at 933 pages if you take this book on holiday you will have to sacrifice packing a pair of shoes. That said, it is worth it - you wouldn't have worn those shoes anyway. This is also a book that I do not think would work well on Kindle - no, it's a hold and read book, lay down and think about what you have just read book, a re-read over that chapter again book - for it is an autobiographical novel by a man known for ten years as Australia's most wanted man. Roberts takes us to the highs and lows of Bombay/Mumbai where he had sought shelter after escaping from Australian prison. In the years that he was in India, he participated in a plethora of activities, from setting up a free medical clinic for the slum poor, to associating with the Bombay Mafia, and being put in Bombay jail. Through it all runs his love for one woman, a woman who sometimes not worthy of that vastness of love, and who sometimes leads him down the path of great troubles. The reader will be glad to know that whilst the novel is autobiographical, Roberts captured in Germany and returns to Australia to finish his sentence - and write this book. Highly recommended. ( )
  nadineeg | May 2, 2020 |
I loved this book. ( )
  Phyllis.Mann | Mar 18, 2020 |
I loved this book. Written by an Australian, the story follows the basic plot line of the author's bio - he escaped from prison in Australia and made his way to India. He lived in a slum and helped as a doctor, he became a member of the Indian mafia and then was recaptured and completed his jail term. That's the broad strokes of the novel as well.

What I particularly enjoyed about the book is the way he describes his interactions with the Indian people he met, their habits and beliefs. I liked that he wrote the English passages in broken English and with misused words, as it might be spoken by a ESL speaker.

The writing style is conversational, easy to read and occasionally a little philosophical as the character tries to make sense of what's happening in his life and around him. Roberts waxes a little poetic sometimes, but I never found it annoying or intrusive.

Although long at just over 900 pages, I thoroughly enjoyed and was kept engaged in the story for over 700 pages. The last 150 or so were less interesting to me - it describes him and going with a small group to help with the war in Afghanistan - I didn't care about those characters and the writing seemed less appealing.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in a "slice of life" look at a big city in India. I really couldn't put it down!
( )
  Terrie2018 | Feb 21, 2020 |
Shantaram reads too much like a soap opera for my liking. It is a good book, but there is a lot of fluff and starry eyed love stuff. This book could have been at least 300 pages shorter, and the story would have been better and more powerful. Still, a good read, but you have to skip the fluffy stuff every now and again. ( )
  hyper7 | Feb 12, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 185 (next | show all)
"Get things moving with this sprawling epic about an ex-bankrobber making a new life for himself in the poverty-stricken slums of Bombay."
 
The book is full of vibrant characters.
 
"A sensational read, it might well reproduce its bestselling success in Australia here."
added by bookfitz | editPublishers Weekly (Aug 23, 2004)
 
"Roberts is a sure storyteller, capable of passages of precise beauty, and if his tale sometimes threatens to sprawl out of bounds and collapse under its own bookish, poetic weight, he draws its elements together at just the right moment."
added by bookfitz | editKirkus Reviews (Aug 1, 2004)
 
'Shantaram': Bombay or Bust
 

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gregory David Robertsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frydenlund, John ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guglielmina, PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mazan, MaciejkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mingiardi, VincenzoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palomas, AlejandroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schmidt, SibylleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sjöström, Hans O.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For my mother
First words
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.
Quotations
At first, when we truly love someone, our greatest fear is that the loved one will stop loving us. What we should fear and dread, of course, is that we won't stop loving them, even after they're dead and gone.
They'd lied to me and betrayed me, leaving jagged edges where all my trust had been, and I didn't like or respect or admire them any more, but still I loved them. I had no choice. I understood that, perfectly, standing in the white wilderness of snow. You can't kill love. You can't even kill it with hate. You can kill in-love, and loving, and even loveliness. You can kill them all, or numb them into dense, leaden regret, but you can't kill love itself. Love is the passionate search for a truth other than your own; and once you feel it, honestly and completely, love is forever. Every act of love, every moment of the heart reaching out, is a part of the universal good: it's a part of God, or what we call God, and it can never die.
And I'd learned, the hard way, that sometimes, even with the purest of intentions, we make things worse when we do our best to make things better. (p.81)
It was at once his most endearing and most irritating quality, that he always told me the whole of the truth.
But repression, they say, breeds resistance in some men, and I was resisting the world with every minute of my life.
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