"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)
This book was already magnificent, I've read it numerous times. There is nothing else exactly like it. The reading of this novel though.....it brought it far above the high regard I already had for the story. I like a slow reading, so I usually listen at .85 of speed, as I did this one. However, everything else was perfect. His inflection, his pacing, the emotion in his voice changing to reflect the speaker in the plot - just wonderful. Because his accent is Australian, but I've never heard the author speak in real life, I kind of feel like he *became* Gregory David Roberts for me. Top notch, 10/10, Two thumbs up and that. Buy this.
I am so thankful I chose to purchase this book in audible version. I cannot give enough kudos to the narrator Humphrey Bower for his performance. There are a lot of characters to keep track of and he does a fantastic job bringing them to life with spot-on accents and flawless transitions. I have zero doubt in my mind I would not have finished this book if I had read it in paper form.
The story itself is interesting, funny and engaging. I enjoyed this book but got annoyed that Lynn always seemed to be the hero in every situation. Whatever tragic or happy event is happening, somehow he becomes the voice of reason, the mastermind, the person everyone turns to, the sole reason things turned out so well for everyone. It felt very self serving to me and by the second half of the book, an annoyance when listening to the stories.
While the story is one if the most engrossing and intriguing I have ever read it is Bower's wasteful reading of this novel that did it for me. Wonderful pacing with amazing accents and nuances. 5 stars all around.
wow. this book was,recommended to me at a book store but I was intimidated by the size of the book. the customer recommended I buy it on Audible. this book was AWESOME partially because of the accents of the voices. what a fantastic book. I would not have normally chosen a book like this but it is a top 5 book of my life. There were times I went for a walk just so I could listen to my book. yes, it's that good.
i have read may books and listened to just as many, I have never heard of a story, read, or listened to something so powerful, so amazing, so true to life. This novel embodies the warrior poet in all of us, as a soldier I feel every word as though this man and his life are somehow connected to me and all of us. Love is the answer and nothing says it more clearly than this novel. Throughout this epic I was tossed and turned and thrown about and still enthralled to see what happened next, truely a work of art.
So phenomenally narrated! Everything about this was great, but the narrator really brought all the characters to life!
First, Humphrey Bower is incredible. I absolutely love listening to him read characters with international accents. So this book, as well as those by Bryce Courtenay, is a perfect fit for his talents. This author started out reminding me of Courtenay, but then he got a little too long winded. One more simile about Carla's green eyes and I was going to throw something. However, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book. It's not only a good story about India, but it also gives some insight into how a terrorist or mercenary could be groomed.
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