"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)
One of the best audiobooks ever!
This is the most engaging story that I have had the pleasure to listen to! I had previously read this book, but the narration by Humphrey Bower really makes it come to life. The experiences of the characters cleverly convey many life philosophies and this audiobook will remain in my library to listen to again at a future time.
Yes, only because I am on the road about 3 hrs per day.
I don't have other comparisons.
The first time he entered the slums.
Not sure I trust any of them.
Life Learner that has to occasionally sprinkle some fiction into my audio entertainment. Be educated, be worldly, and keep switching gears!
Yes, yes, yes!
It has everything... romance, suspense, philosophy, excitement. It is well written and excellently narrated.
Deepak Chopra meets Indiana Jones.
The conversation about doing the wrong thing for the right reasons and the conversation about God.
Wow. Gets you firing on all cylinders. Laugh or cry? How about laugh and cry!
Stop reading this and use that credit.
The narration on this story is incredible - the voices, the accents, and the inflections by the narrator really bring this heartwarming story to life. Though this book is pretty long, I really enjoyed the way the story unfolded and the way the author brought color to Lynn's emotions. There were definitely happy moments, sad moments, and really scary moments, and the author maintains a sense of mystery throughout the tale. One of the best audio books I've listened to ever! Definitely worth the listen!
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.
Absorbing, sublime, brutal.
The narration was extraordinary. I'll be looking for other narrations by Humphrey Bower. It's not to say the story was not extraordinary -- it's just a winning combination.
Authenticity of the diverse flavors of the people. Beautiful, engaging voice. Masterful representations.
Prabaka (not sure of spelling as it was audio)
I listen to books as I work. It's a beautiful life.
This is a long book. Because it takes so many hours to complete, there are certainly areas that go slower then others. But overall, this is a very interesting, fast paced look into the Indian culture. Humphrey Bower is absolutely amazing! He brings each character to life in a unique way. I would highly recommend this listen. It's easily in my top 5.
Needed a good editor. Lots of it was overwritten, a reflection of the author's overinflated ego.
Too much gore and violence. The author loves telling about the bloody details of various knife, gun, or fist fights. At first it's fascinating, but by the end of the book, it is revolting.
No. But I would after listening to this one. He is able to depict an incredibly wide variety of characters and accents. An absolutely superlative performance.
Probably not. Too much violence.
When I first picked up this book, I only heard people saying that if the first page strikes a chord with the strings of you soul, there's no way you could put it down from there on. Well, it's only partially true, as it lured me into its bittersweet adventure and kept me excited the whole way throughout the book.
Although the last page, as well as the first, made a breathtaking impression, causing shivers up and down my spine, almost every other page is filled with phrases one would want to come back to and relive again. I believe I was even more lucky as I listened to the book. There's some kind of special magic about that Indian accent I liked so much mixed with a low, deep narration of the main character. My affection towards people and events presented grew stronger and stronger as the hours of chapters flew by. Even more so, I liked the philosophy, as well as the principles of love and justice expressed by the author; they somehow resemble to those I've always believed in and tried to live according to.
A special attention should be drawn to love, of course. Each page is filled with it, in this form or another, and you find yourself thinking that there's no any other way to truth, if not through love.
Much can, and should be said as I finished the book, with the storm of feelings accumulated throughout this charming story. As for me, it could not be better expressed, other than with the help of the following sentence: "One deserves to give himself or herself a gift of this fascinated journey that "Shantaram" kindly offers."
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