Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts

by Gregory David Roberts
933 pages

Short Version: An escaped convict flees to Bombay to find refuge, love, and meaning in a city of slum dwellars, mofia dons, Bollywood stars, exiles and Indians.

Why I Read It: I was told my numerous people that it was a good book, but what really drew me in was that the story of the escaped convict is based on the author's real life.

The Book: From Goodreads
"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.

My Thoughts: From the first line of this book I was drawn in and immediately felt for the narrator, Lin. Although he is a convict, I wanted him to be free from the tortured prison life. The descriptions he gives upon arriving to Bombay, paint a wonderful picture that now make me want to go to India. Life in Bombay seems to never have a dull moment for Lin. He goes from life in the slum, to being a gangster,to helping out with Bollywood movies and eventually going into Afganastan during the Soviet invasion. This kept the adventure going, but I wonder what part of this is true and what parts did Roberts exaggerate to make this story. Roberts also has a tendancy to ramble on which made me just want to be done with the book. His rambles made me feel that Lin was mopey and that I should have felt sorry for him, but I was eventually annoyed with this. I wanted to tell him to get over it and deal with his consequenses. I was also disappointed with the ending. From reading about the author, I know Roberts was recaptured and served out the rest of his sentance. I kept thinking because the book was so long it was going to encompass his entire escape, but it does not. Conflicts were mostly resolved and Lin moves on with his life, but I keep wondering how did he get caught again. There was no real closure for me. Overall the book was good. The adventures and knowing this was based on Roberts life is what kept me going.

3/5 Stars

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love hearing from you! I appreciate all comments and will try to reply as soon as possible.