"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."
So begins this epic, mesmerizing first novel set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. 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.
©2003 Gregory David Roberts (P)2006 Blackstone Audiobooks
"Shantaram is a novel of the first order, a work of extraordinary art, a thing of exceptional beauty. If someone asked me what the book was about, I would have to say everything, every thing in the world. Gregory David Roberts does for Bombay what Lawrence Durrell did for Alexandria, what Melville did for the South Seas, and what Thoreau did for Walden Pond: He makes it an eternal player in the literature of the world." (Pat Conroy)
"[A] sprawling, intelligent novel…full of vibrant characters…the exuberance of his prose is refreshing…Roberts brings us through Bombay's slums and opium houses, its prostitution dens and ex-pat bars, saying, You come now. And we follow." (The Washington Post)
"Few stand out quite like Shantaram …nothing if not entertaining. Sometimes a big story is its own best reward." (The New York Times)
I bought this book since I’m a fan of the narrator Humphrey Bower, but the book exceeded all my expectation. It is well written, exciting, warm, surprising and fun to listen to. After more than 150 audible books, this is absolutely one of my favorites.
One of my favorites. Well worth the 40+ hours.
This story had every aspect of a great story, written well. Love, Loss, Redemption, Crime, War, Exotic Locales, Philosophy, Colorful Characters.
No. But I would be happy to try another. He had a large cast of characters, with many accents, and they were all flatteringly done.
Carla. She was the focus of Lin's love but she had secrets that kept her at a distance. Lin's focus on her and efforts to know and try to keep her made her most memorable for me.
I am very happy to have stumbled across this book. This one was a real pleasure.
Having read this book 5 or more years ago, I was tentative about listening to it, much in the same way that seeing a movie of a book you've read can often disappoint. Humphrey Bower saved me from that kind of despair ... Thanks Mr Bower.
I have not travelled to India but now feel I can taste, smell, hear and see this most fascinating and diverse culture. The depth of feeling and the complexity of the myriad of characters in this novel are compelling and engaging. This personal journey's, unravelling in experiences of great fortune and desperate despair, connected me to Lin Ba Ba's world and at times, he felt like a brother having a deep and meaningful conversation with me.
The story is unbelievable. There are people I know who say it is highly exaggerated, some who say it's all true. It seems unbelievable to me, but in a deeply moving way. This is a man who tries to face himself, tries to see, to forgive and to change. Despite all his crimes, all the responsibility he abandoned, I admired his courage, insights and philosophical reflections on the world, on humanity and what it means to be free.
The book starts off with a hilarious narrative between an Australian escaped convict on the run, and the quircky Indians he comes in contact with.
His emotional journey that results from his personal investment with expatriates and native Indians, is a little flowery for my taste, but I still enjoyed it ans would recommend the book.
The narrator did an excellent job, I would look for other books he produced.
Much has been said and written about Shantaram. It is controversial because it is reported to be somewhat based on the author's real experiences in escaping prison in Australia and living in Bombay. However, Gregory David Roberts has been accused of exploiting the real people that his characters are based on and of making promises to the slum dwellers in Mumbai that he never follows through on. All that aside, it is an extremely interesting and emotionally compelling story in which you come to love the characters portrayed. Sure, the writing is sometimes not very good. In fact, I actually laughed at some of the prose describing the first time that Lin makes love with Carla. But, all in all, it was a story that I didn't want to end.
Humphrey Bower's performance was just fantastic. His pacing, creation of characters, accents and emotional performance was just perfect for this sweeping novel. I don't think I've ever heard as good a performance except maybe from Craig Wasson's narration of King's "11-22-63: A Novel". I will be looking for other books that he has narrated.
I thoroughly enjoyed Shantaram and was sorry when it was over. I hope that Gregory David Roberts' reported sequel is as good and the on again, off again, movie version doesn't ruin the book.
This is probably one of the top 10 books and top 5 Audiobooks I have experienced. Vivid setting descriptions, incredibly colorful characters and....what a plot.
Personally I like listening to Aussies, which Bower is, but his interpretations of Indians and Pakistanis speaking English will blow anyone who has heard this accent away. His German, Belgian and French english speaking accents aren't bad either
I'm a fan of mystery, science-fiction, and the unusual.
It held my attention for two weeks.
it seemed the author had done his research. The details had the ring of authenticity.
The characters were easily recognizable from the voices he used.
No. It is too long to listen to in one setting. It was a page-turner, if that is the question.
Shantaram is a story about a fugitive from Australia who finds a home in Bombay, India. He becomes part of the criminal underworld, and has myriad adventures. The novel is not biographical, though it reads as such. It is loosely based on, and drawn from, the authors real life experiences. The author is a heroin addict who escaped from prison in Australia, and lived as a fugitive in Bombay.
I loved this book. It's a very long, detailed page-turner. The characters are realistic enough to like. The events are larger than life, but with enough truth in them all that it never shook me out of my immersion in the narrative. The story is both outrageously adventurous, and plausible.
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