"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)
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."
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)
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.
except for the endless terrible metaphors it was fantastic. the narrator was the best at real variation and flavor in voices that I've ever heard.
The writing is exceptional!
A very intriguing story and the author has a beautiful way of combining words to create unexpected, but perfect and unique descriptions.
The narrator is top notch. He performs every accent and language (which are many) used in this novel with amazing agility and knowledge. A true pleasure to listen to. Also a good quality recording.
The pairing of the writer and narrator makes this novel more of a joy to listen to than to read. Which is a rare !
This book was truly a work of art. Completely intoxicating. I could not stop listening. it was one of the most incredible audiobook experiences I've ever had. The narrator did such a flawless job of giving each character their own authentic voice. The author put things so perfectly that for situations I never thought I'd be able to picture, I was able to feel like I was right there , watching it happen live in front of me. I feel more cultured and more humble after having experienced this story.
It is one of the best books I have heard.Narrator made it a memorable experience for me.It shows how experienced the writer is .He successfully and effortlessly involves the audience/reader as a bystander who not only enjoys the experience provided by his script and storytelling ability but provokes the reader to think , associate and reason with him.His story stirs all humanly possible emotions that one could never experience living a safe protected and mundane life.It is inspiring,creative,intelligently crafted and a read for anyone and everyone.
One of the finest stories and life journeys well narrated and very well paced. I can highly recommend it to anyone with a appetite for great literature.
And an awesome performance as well by the narrator as well! He does different voices for different characters and doesn't sound corny at all.
The story is wonderful - deep and engaging. Epic, but on a very personal level. The sights, sounds and tastes of Bombay are so vividly presented that it's made me desperate to travel there.
The reading by Humphrey Bower is one of the finest I've ever heard. The voices and characterizations are so unique and authentic that at times it sounds like there is a cast of twenty reading the book. Every single minute of this book is a delight to listen to.
Report Inappropriate Content