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Shantaram (2003)

by Gregory David Roberts

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Shantaram (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,4982181,165 (4.14)1 / 304
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)
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» See also 304 mentions

English (200)  French (4)  Italian (4)  German (3)  Swedish (3)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Finnish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (218)
Showing 1-5 of 200 (next | show all)
I got to chapter 5 and just couldn't go on. The nonsensical musings at the end of the chapters could be overlooked. It was the condescending treatment of Indian people that I couldn't handle. The author seems to be a decent storyteller, so it was too bad this one was off key. ( )
  helenar238 | Dec 30, 2021 |
I'll say this for "Shantaram" - the author gives it enough narrative force that I made it all the way to page 933. But I have to agree with most of the negative reviewers. This is a lot of self-indulgent, pseudo-philosophical nonsense, with generous helpings of bad, bad writing. Particularly icky are the love scenes. The Afghanistan section is too long, and way too many characters are introduced who simply add nothing, but we have to slog through long-winded descriptions of their faces and what they are wearing. The author really has no discipline and his editor was either lazy or incompetent. This book wants to be "Shogun" for 1980's India, and I have to say that some of the magic of Bombay makes it into the story, and the author takes us to some fascinating places. However, Mr. Roberts is not James Clavell. ( )
  Octavia78 | Nov 28, 2021 |
It is a mammoth book that made me hesitate to start reading... But, in the end, I'm very glad that I started it. The pages flew so fast that I was at the last page far earlier that I expected. This one is a must read, with all its flaws. ( )
  aravind_aar | Nov 21, 2021 |
Casey Corrigan rec
  wordloversf | Aug 14, 2021 |
I first read this book in 2006, and re-read it in 2015. It was even better than I had remembered.


This amazing book is based on the actual experiences of the author, who escaped from an Australian jail and ended up in Bombay among the colorful characters of the underworld.

The story itself is both gorgeous and gritty. Bad things happen to good and bad people -- and to people too complicated to be easily judged. There are deaths, crimes, imprisonment, war, torture, sex, drugs, intrigue. . . and a dancing bear rescued from disaster by being covered in papier mache and turned into a statue of Ganesha. (That story alone is worth the entire book!)

( )
  jsabrina | Jul 13, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 200 (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 (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gregory David Robertsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bower, HumphreyNarratorsecondary 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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For my mother
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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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Wikipedia in English (2)

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.

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Average: (4.14)
0.5 8
1 30
1.5 5
2 68
2.5 16
3 200
3.5 67
4 500
4.5 97
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