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Shantaram: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Gregory David Roberts
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,460 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
Kindle Price: $8.58
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Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

"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.



Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Crime and punishment, passion and loyalty, betrayal and redemption are only a few of the ingredients in Shantaram, a massive, over-the-top, mostly autobiographical novel. Shantaram is the name given Mr. Lindsay, or Linbaba, the larger-than-life hero. It means "man of God's peace," which is what the Indian people know of Lin. What they do not know is that prior to his arrival in Bombay he escaped from an Australian prison where he had begun serving a 19-year sentence. He served two years and leaped over the wall. He was imprisoned for a string of armed robberies peformed to support his heroin addiction, which started when his marriage fell apart and he lost custody of his daughter. All of that is enough for several lifetimes, but for Greg Roberts, that's only the beginning.

He arrives in Bombay with little money, an assumed name, false papers, an untellable past, and no plans for the future. Fortunately, he meets Prabaker right away, a sweet, smiling man who is a street guide. He takes to Lin immediately, eventually introducing him to his home village, where they end up living for six months. When they return to Bombay, they take up residence in a sprawling illegal slum of 25,000 people and Linbaba becomes the resident "doctor." With a prison knowledge of first aid and whatever medicines he can cadge from doing trades with the local Mafia, he sets up a practice and is regarded as heaven-sent by these poor people who have nothing but illness, rat bites, dysentery, and anemia. He also meets Karla, an enigmatic Swiss-American woman, with whom he falls in love. Theirs is a complicated relationship, and Karla’s connections are murky from the outset.

Roberts is not reluctant to wax poetic; in fact, some of his prose is downright embarrassing. Throughought the novel, however, all 944 pages of it, every single sentence rings true. He is a tough guy with a tender heart, one capable of what is judged criminal behavior, but a basically decent, intelligent man who would never intentionally hurt anyone, especially anyone he knew. He is a magnet for trouble, a soldier of fortune, a picaresque hero: the rascal who lives by his wits in a corrupt society. His story is irresistible. Stay tuned for the prequel and the sequel. --Valerie Ryan

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of this massive, thrillingly undomesticated potboiler, a young Australian man bearing a false New Zealand passport that gives his name as "Lindsay" flies to Bombay some time in the early '80s. On his first day there, Lindsay meets the two people who will largely influence his fate in the city. One is a young tour guide, Prabaker, whose gifts include a large smile and an unstoppably joyful heart. Through Prabaker, Lindsay learns Marathi (a language not often spoken by gora, or foreigners), gets to know village India and settles, for a time, in a vast shantytown, operating an illicit free clinic. The second person he meets is Karla, a beautiful Swiss-American woman with sea-green eyes and a circle of expatriate friends. Lin's love for Karla—and her mysterious inability to love in return—gives the book its central tension. "Linbaba's" life in the slum abruptly ends when he is arrested without charge and thrown into the hell of Arthur Road Prison. Upon his release, he moves from the slum and begins laundering money and forging passports for one of the heads of the Bombay mafia, guru/sage Abdel Khader Khan. Eventually, he follows Khader as an improbable guerrilla in the war against the Russians in Afghanistan. There he learns about Karla's connection to Khader and discovers who set him up for arrest. Roberts, who wrote the first drafts of the novel in prison, has poured everything he knows into this book and it shows. It has a heartfelt, cinemascope feel. 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, it might well reproduce its bestselling success in Australia here.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1502 KB
  • Print Length: 946 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0312330537
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (October 13, 2004)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002U5HKZ6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,403 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
427 of 441 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do yourself a favor: read this book. January 23, 2005
Format:Hardcover
I have, in the last three years, read literally hundreds of books of fiction. I can quite easily list the three bodies of work which were the most enjoyable, instructive, and otherwise influential to me. In order they are: 1) the entire 21 book series of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin historic naval literature (probably the best series of books I have ever read), 2) the three books of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and the System of the World), each book being better than the previous one, and 3) Shantaram.

Shantaram is a love story from start to finish: love of mankind, love of friends, love of a woman, love of a country, love of a city, love of an adversary, love of a way of life, love of a people, love of adventure, love of a father, and, most apparent, love for the reader.

The protagonist (based on the writer himself) is a complex adventurer with a deep soul and a past which, though you and I can never fully appreciate it unless we have done similar things (highly unlikely...few of us have ever been tortured, for example, or kicked a heroin habit twice) is made accessible to us, complete with its feelings and lessons.

The writing is superb, the characters have depth, the setting descriptions place you right there, the plots are intriguing, and the emotions, including humor, I cannot adequately describe, since I have nowhere near the skills of the writer, Gregory Roberts.

I cannot recommend the book more highly. Please do yourself a favor and read it.
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496 of 535 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Marvel October 22, 2004
Format:Hardcover
Shantaram is one of those books that you wait to find for five years, even a decade. You know how it is. You read a really great book and, on coming to the end page, immediately want to find another book just as good to fill its place. So you go out looking for such a book, but cannot find it. You look for a week, then a month, then months turn to years, and finally,5 to 10 years later, you finally find a book that is a really great read.

Shantaram is such a book. It is an A+ story that captivates you on page one and sustains the pace through every one of its 920 pages. It overflows with a wide range of characters of every moral persuasion, good and bad. And it is rich with the big themes on the nature of humanity and the human struggle to survive and thrive, for better or worse. In addition, the actual writing is superb, descriptive and often beautiful, without ever descending into sentimental or maudlin. Roberts always manages to find the right phrase or word to bring into clear focus the incredible wide range of experiences he paints. I might add, this is one book that I do not want to see as a movie, because there is no way that a mere movie could be a fraction as good as this glorious, three dimensional work.

I'll be lucky if I have to wait only another 5 - 10 years to find another book this good.
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209 of 236 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book to Measure All Other Books By May 17, 2005
Format:Hardcover
What a book! What a story! The characters are as real as your hand in front of your face and you'll want to hop on the next airplane to Bombay (Mumbai), India to drop in at Leopold's to chance a glimpse of the old gang.....

This book will rip your heart out, stomp on it, and put it back in your chest all repaired by the ending. It took me a week to read and it was the best week of my life. I cried when it was over and haven't been able to read another book since. Truly an epic masterpiece.
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67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book of 2005 September 14, 2006
Format:Paperback
It's just not fair. Gregory David Roberts is one of the best writers of our time, and I do not make that statement lightly. I am usually a 350-400 page novel-reader -- I like to get in and get out. But after reading the first paragraph (I dare you to read it and NOT be interested in seeing where he goes), I couldn't stop thinking about it. Actually, I read the first paragraph in Borders, put it down and went home. I simply didn't want to start a 900 page novel. But I couldn't get the passage out of my head the whole night, and returned the next day to purchase it. This book is magical. It reads like the best non-fiction adventure novel (!) ever written. I gave the book to my dad for his birthday and about a month later asked him how it was going. He told me that he had 100 pages left but hadn't read in two weeks because he "didn't want it to end."

Instead of a synopsis of the book, which is available in so many places, I thought I'd tell you my thoughts about the book and how it impacted me and those around me. I hope it helps. I tell everyone about this book and always say the same two things:

1) Don't let the 900 pages scare you.

2) Read the first paragraph. If you aren't interested in that, don't go on. But if that paragraph doesn't inspire you, I have no idea why you read in the first place. You can read the first page here on Amazon.
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92 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Novel of the 21st Century...so far September 6, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
FINALLY, a gut-wrenching, harrowing, well-penned novel, whose author suffers not from the literary constipation of most current "highbrow" authors (He's faced down far more deadly things, chronicled herein, to be affrighted by sharp penned editors.) - A book, in short, that will make your heart bleed with the depths to which the human soul can sink and the glories to which it can rise. ----I read so many books, but this is the first true work of art and genius published in this new century that I've managed to discover. It is a book from which I'm still recovering from having read. Like all great art, it leaves one with a new perspective on the world and causes one to reconnoitre the heart's bearings. The book strips away the lies we tell ourselves and leaves the heartstrings bare for the reader to see, where he/ she will recognise his/her own.

Let's get something straight here: This is not a book of "purple prose" or any form of sentimentality. Each tear shed is wrung from harrowing experience. As Roberts writes, "One of the reasons we crave love, and seek it so desperately, is that love is the only cure for loneliness, and shame, and sorrow. But some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths about yourself are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. And some things are just so sad that only your soul can do the crying for you."--Your soul will have cried with Roberts's many times before the end of the book.

This is truly a book for lovers of great literature. Roberts writes, "I never found a club or a clan or idea that was more important to me than the men and women who believed in it."--This book is one that values the mystery of people and the mystery of human existence above all else. ----Including yours, reader.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars There are some pretty compelling descriptions of various Indian social...
I bought this to reread. There are some pretty compelling descriptions of various Indian social groups, and conditions in which people live that are astounding in their contrasts.
Published 1 hour ago by Robert F. Denehy
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic
Not my typical read, but I was glad to get into it. Extremely well written and an inspiring story that draws you in!
Published 10 hours ago by Tyler Lindholm
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it
Engaging read
Published 1 day ago by Andy
3.0 out of 5 stars I loved it and hated it
Just finished it and although there are hundreds of reviews, I feel the need to add another. Because I can't decide if I loved this book or hated it, and I've decided that I love... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Paul Kjer
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent novel. A bit long but have a difficult ...
An excellent novel. A bit long but have a difficult time putting it down.
Sd
Published 1 day ago by susan l dommerich
5.0 out of 5 stars Well described scenario of Mumbai, an indeed fascinating city with...
Excellent, pretty much also biographical, description of slum life is a bit 'rosier' than it is in reality, but all in all very well written, drak and very human too, shows both... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Ulla
5.0 out of 5 stars Won"t Regret This
An excellent read! Not just an exciting story. Also filled with poignant insight, perspective and 1st class ways of describing what one feels when faced with love, loyalty and... Read more
Published 2 days ago by casualshopper21
2.0 out of 5 stars Waaaayyy too long
This is not a novel. It's a life plus a list of aphorisms. Best part is narrator getting to know Mumbai.
Published 2 days ago by Jeanne C. Blomberg
4.0 out of 5 stars Will read again
Great story I felt like I was there. Thanks JoAnn H
Published 2 days ago by JoAnn Hotchkiss
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Good read
Published 2 days ago by Matt Parker
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More About the Author

Gregory David Roberts was born in Melbourne, Australia. A gifted writer and student, he became addicted to heroin when his marriage collapsed and he lost the custody of his daughter. When he committed a series of robberies with an imitation pistol, he was described as the Gentleman Bandit. Sentenced to nineteen years in prison, he escaped and journeyed to New Zealand, Asia, Africa, and Europe. For ten of those fugitive years he lived in Bombay-where he established a free medical clinic for slum-dwellers, and worked as a counterfeiter, smuggler, gunrunner, and street soldier for a branch of the Bombay mafia. Recaptured in Germany, he served out his sentence there and in Australian prisons. Upon his release, he established a successful multimedia company, and since the international publication of Shantaram, he is a full-time writer, at home in several countries.

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If you liked the book, you'll love the audio format
I agree whole heartedly. I loved the book so much I bought 10 copies to give away as gifts. But there were friends who I KNEW would never pick it up simply because it looks daunting. (believe me, from the first page you disappear into the narrative you won't realize it. personally, i slowed... Read More
Jun 30, 2006 by John A. Radi |  See all 11 posts
What's next?
40 years and its the best? Ahh! Its my fourth large book that I've read (600+) and I've fallen in love with these types of novels; I hope theres more work up to par with Shantaram! I'm young and I want to check out all the classics. It was my original plan, and then I found Shantaram (by... Read More
Jul 26, 2008 by Ryan Bassett |  See all 12 posts
Roberts should have won a Pulitzer for this!
Let's not resort to name calling here, that violates the spirit of everything Gregory David Roberts' philosophy stands for. I agree that it should have won a major literary prize and I also can't halp but woder if his subject matter concerning the modern world conflicts counted against him.

I... Read More
Mar 3, 2010 by MmePolitrixie |  See all 10 posts
russell crowe
Whoops, my bad, I had no idea it was already being made into a movie. I agree, it would have been a wonderful role for Russell Crowe, but the director they chose is astonishing.
Mar 1, 2009 by Haig Kondayan |  See all 9 posts
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