Title : SHANTARAM
Language : English
Author : Gregory David Roberts
Genre : Semi-Fiction
Publisher : Little, Brown Book Group ( 2005 )
ISBN-13 : 9780349117546
ISBN-10 : 0349117543
Binding : Paperback
Edition : 1st
Price : Rs. 599 ( Buy from Flipkart.com for Rs. 383/- ( 36% Off )
Pages : 944
The Book Summary : Shantaram tells the story of an escaped Australian convict who takes refuge in the slums of Mumbai. Lindsay arrives in Mumbai with a fake passport. He is an escaped Australian convict who was in the middle of a long term in prison for armed robbery. Lindsay does not plan to stay in India. He has carefully planned to proceed on to Germany. While he is taking in the sights of Mumbai, he befriends a guide named Prabaker. Lindsay then decides to stay on in Mumbai. Prabaker takes Lin to his home in a nearby village. Prabaker’s mother likes the quiet guest and she gives him the name Shantaram, which means A Man of Peace.
Lin and Prabaker return to the city, but are robbed on the way. With no money left, Lin decides to settle down in the slums of Mumbai. He discovers the sleazy areas of the city with Prabaker as his guide, and discovers the hidden face of Mumbai, which is inhabited by a confusing milieu of gangsters, holy men, prostitutes, beggars, actors, and soldiers. He opens an illegal medical clinic to help the slum inhabitants get medical supplies. He lands small parts in Bollywood movies and also starts working for the Mumbai underworld. His gangster boss, Abdel Khader Khan, becomes a sort of mentor and protector for Lin. He escapes a long term in prison because of Khader Khan’s protection, and goes to Africa and Afghanistan on missions for him.
He falls in love with an attractive Swiss-American expatriate Karla, who is enigmatic and does not allow him to get close. After the death of Khader Khan, Lin realises that his real identity is lost. He settles down in his new home and tries to find the meaning and purpose of life and love in the strange melting pot of Mumbai.Shantaram is the story of a man who tries to escape his past, only to get more deeply pulled into the world of crime and violence that he sought to escape.
My Point of View ( P.O.V ) : "I just received this huge, and I mean really huge book ( 944 pages )! Well, first of all it was a contest winning book, so thankfully I wasn't under obligation to review it. But I will. Its a challenge I have set for myself, as I never reviewed such a huge book before."
Well, the above paragraph I wrote over a year ago, and it lay in my drafts folder for ages. And till date I couldn't manage to finish the book, as I gave other work more priority. So, this time I gave myself a few days and decided to finish it. And boy! Am I glad I did. I wish I read it earlier. It is one of a kind book for sure. One hell of a novel an epic really, that'll give so many other books a mighty complex. I'm in awe of the writer who can finish such a big-fat-thick book with a good engaging story to boot. The story is somewhat semi-autobiographical ( or so it claims ) as it resembles the author's own life-story of being a former convict who escapes from an Australian prison in 1980 and flees to Bombay where he lives for 10 years. He starts living in the slums of Bombay and starts a free medical clinic. Later, he joins the mafia. The story also does have its flaws at times too, particularly some dialogues that can make you go err! But other dialogues can impress you too as the author has done a good job of it. All characters are well etched ( esp that of taxi-driver Prabaker - don't miss him ) and you are drawn towards them, and is curious what happens next.
The story of India and Indians from an outsider's point of view in Bombay's backdrop, is also one good reason to read ( I'm always bit biased with stories written in Bombay setting ). I liked reading about the adventurous protagonist's life thoroughly. It sure is unique. Some may like it or some may dislike it, but one can't ignore it. Lots of things to learn, particularly the lessons the protagonist learns via his journey of life. Love, humor, romance, fate, tragedy, philosophies, choices, thrill, action, redemption and survival - That's Shantaram for you.
Positives : Vivid, fast and pacy; inspite of its huge size, a very captivating story that'll keep you hooked till the end.
Negatives : Certain parts are not consistent, some cliched; unnecessary details can be edited out.
Who will enjoy this? - Everyone!
Buy or Don’t Buy? – A Must Buy!
About the Author : Gregory David Roberts is an Australian writer. Shantaram is his first novel. Gregory David Roberts, like the main character in his first novel, is a convicted criminal and a former drug addict. He escaped from an Australian prison and ended up in India. He spent around ten years in Mumbai. In fact, his book Shantaram draws a lot of inspiration from his own life. After being caught and imprisoned again, he served his full sentence and was then reunited with his family. He has returned to Mumbai to help set up a foundation for providing healthcare to the city's poor. He is engaged to Francoise Sturdza.
Our Rating Scale is : 1 to 5 = ◕◕◕ - I liked it!