Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

76%

17 Critic Reviews

If there are occasional passages that would make the very angels of purple prose weep, there are also images, plots, characters, philosophical dialogues and mysteries that more than compensate for the novel's flaws. A sensational read...
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

"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 by Gregory David Roberts, 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.

 

About Gregory David Roberts

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Gregory David Roberts wurde 1952 in Melbourne, Australien, geboren. Während seiner Studienjahre beging er mehrere bewaffnete Raubüberfälle und wurde zu einer 19-jährigen Haftstrafe in einem Hochsicherheitsgefängnis verurteilt. Nach seiner spektakulären Flucht ließ sich Gregory David Roberts in Bombay nieder. Dort gründete er unter anderem seine eigene Castingagentur für Bollywood-Filmproduktionen und eine Rockband. Seine Kontakte zur lokalen Mafia führten schließlich zu seiner Festnahme in Frankfurt. Gregory David Roberts wurde nach Australien zurückgeschickt, wo er weitere sechs Jahre im Gefängnis verbrachte – zwei davon in Einzelhaft. In dieser Zeit begann er seine Arbeit an seinem ersten Roman "Shantaram", der mittlerweile zu einem weltweiten sensationellen Erfolg avanciert ist. Heute lebt Gregory David Roberts mit seiner Familie in Genf.
 
Published October 13, 2004 by St. Martin's Press. 946 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Horror, Action & Adventure, Biographies & Memoirs, Travel, Crime. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Shantaram
All: 17 | Positive: 14 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 20 2010

...an elegantly written, page-turning blockbuster by Australian newcomer Roberts...Roberts is a sure storyteller, capable of passages of precise beauty, and if his tale sometimes threatens to sprawl out of bounds and collapse under its own bookish, poetic weight, he draws its elements together at just the right moment.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Jan 22 2016

If there are occasional passages that would make the very angels of purple prose weep, there are also images, plots, characters, philosophical dialogues and mysteries that more than compensate for the novel's flaws. A sensational read...

Read Full Review of Shantaram | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Megan O'Grady on Dec 26 2004

But it seems unsporting to begrudge Roberts the license to thrill while having such a good time -- and "Shantaram," mangrove-scented prose and all, is nothing if not entertaining. Sometimes a big story is its own best reward. And there's always the next installment.

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USA Today

Above average
Reviewed by Rati Bishnoi on Nov 17 2004

Although Shantaram gives too much of itself, its redemption lies in its bleeding-heart love letter to a Bombay few ever see.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Above average
Reviewed by Nicola Robinson on Aug 15 2003

Laconic humour, sharp wit and explicit Indian obscenities characterise the dialogue. Also apparent is an endearing fondness for the characters of Lin's Bombay: gangsters, prostitutes, prisoners, slum dwellers, petty criminals, gently debauched and decadent Westerners.

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People

Above average
on Nov 08 2004

Though Roberts occasionally dabbles in melodrama in this 933-page epic, his passion for India and its people, coupled with inspired storytelling, more than compensate.

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Austin Chronicle

Above average
on Jan 28 2005

A spiritually enlightened Aussie fugitive (really, is there any other kind?), he takes refuge in the seedy slums of Bombay, where massive fires and cholera epidemics among the 11 million are as common as the yearly monsoon rains. With such a backdrop, this tale knows no boundaries, blooming with each successive page.

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USA Today

Above average
Reviewed by Rati Bishnoi on Nov 17 2004

Part travelogue, part love letter, part autobiography, Shantaram is a vivid, entertaining but slightly grandiose tale of Lin, an ex-junkie and convicted robber...Despite occasional flubs, much is covered gracefully...Although Shantaram gives too much of itself, its redemption lies in its bleeding-heart love letter to a Bombay few ever see.

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India Today

Good
Reviewed by Tara Sahgal on May 31 2004

It is a totally gripping story and though the narrative can be gratuitously sentimental and overly florid, there is no denying its force. It is a superb insight into India and Indianness, full of the clarity of outsider-insider. But still to empathise with a violent criminal is confusing.

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EzineArticles

Below average
Reviewed by Aernout Zevenbergen on Dec 02 2010

That is it. I've given it another 100 pages and have gone beyond the magical 1/3 limit. This clearly isn't working. For the first time in a very, very, very long time I decide to put the book back on the shelves. Unfinished...A quick calculation tells me the book contains about 300,000 words. Even half of that would have been on the rich side.

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Curled Up

Good
Reviewed by Shampa Chatterjee on Sep 29 2005

The story of Shantaram is a story of adventure and daring, a fictionalized account of the life of author Gregory David Roberts...Shantaram is not just a book; it is a sojourn, a spiritual journey into life that shows that even the most complex and powerful systems have at their core a simple and beautiful pattern.

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Women 24

Good
Reviewed by Women24 on Sep 07 2010

The one novel that I would want with me on a desert island would be...Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It is an adventure–packed novel set in India and based on the true-life experiences of an escaped Australian convict (roman-a-clef).

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Helen's Book Blog

Good
Reviewed by Helen on Jul 26 2011

That said, Lin has an amazing capacity to meet people, befriend them, take risks, enjoy life, and live it to its fullest...The details in this book are amazing...so if you are in the mood to really get involved in a long story where you'll know everything that is going on in minute detail this book is for you!

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http://www.dawn.com

Good
Reviewed by FATEMA IMANI on Jun 22 2013

The gorgeous language, undoubtedly, is the biggest strength of the book. Potent, lyrical, richly philosophical, the prose resonates with one on all the highs and lows of the multi-faceted plot.

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Book Coasters

Good
Reviewed by Lauren on Jan 23 2012

Once I finished this book, I became a temporary widow whilst my partner read it and finished the 900 pages even more quickly than I did and he is not usually an avid reader!

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Any Excuse to Write...

Excellent
Reviewed by Smitha on Sep 23 2010

...I am so delighted to say, that I was blown away by the book. Influenced by real life events in the life of the author, is an amazing read...It was such a voluminous book, and yet I just wanted it to go on and on. The narrative keeps you engaged and wanting for more until the very last line.

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The Literary Kitty Blog

Good
on Aug 29 2012

For me, the key feature of this book was how often a phrase or paragraph made me pause, look up and think “that’s so true, even though I’ve never thought to or known how to articulate it”.

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Pete Herner 23 Jun 2013

Rated the book as 1.5 out of 5

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