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Shantaram: A Novel Paperback – October 1, 2005
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“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
“Shantaram has provided me with the richest reading experience to date and I don't expect anybody to unseat its all-round performance for a long time. It is seductive, powerful, complex, and blessed with a perfect voice. Like a voodoo ghost snatcher, Gregory David Roberts has captured the spirits of the likes of Henri Charrière, Rohinton Mistry, Tom Wolfe, and Mario Vargas Llosa, fused them with his own unique magic, and built the most gripping monument in print. The land of the god Ganesh has unchained the elephant, and with the monster running amok, I tremble for the brave soul dreaming of writing a novel about India. Gregory David Roberts is a suitable giant, a dazzling guru, and a genius in full.” ―Moses Isegawa, author of Abyssinian Chronicles and Snakepit
“Shantaram is, quite simply, the 1001 Arabian Nights of the new century. Anyone who loves to read has been looking for this book all their reading life. Anyone who walks away from Shantaram untouched is either heartless or dead or both. I haven't had such a wonderful time in years.” ―Jonathan Carroll, author of White Apples
“Shantaram is dazzling. More importantly, it offers a lesson...that those we incarcerate are human beings. They deserve to be treated with dignity. Some of them, after all, may be exceptional. Some may even possess genius.” ―Ayelet Waldman, author of Crossing the Park
“Utterly unique, absolutely audacious, and wonderfully wild, Shantaram is sure to catch even the most fantastic of imaginations off guard.” ―Elle
“Shantaram had me hooked from the first sentence. [It] is thrilling, touching, frightening...a glorious wallow of a novel.” ―Detroit Free Press
“[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
“Inspired storytelling.” ―People
“Vivid, entertaining. Its visceral, cinematic descriptive beauty truly impresses.” ―USA Today
“Few stand out quite like Shantaram …nothing if not entertaining. Sometimes a big story is its own best reward.” ―The New York Times
“...very good...vast of vision and breadth.” ―Time Out
“This massive autobiographical novel draws heavily from Roberts' vida loca. Don't let the size scare you away – Shantaram is one of the most gripping tales of personal redemption you'll ever read.” ―Giant Magazine
“This reviewer is amazed that Roberts is here to write anything. Swallowed up by the abyss, somehow he crawled out intact….His love for other people was his salvation…Powerful books can change our lives. The potency of Shantaram is the joy of forgiveness. First we must regret, then forgive. Forgiveness is a beacon in the blackness.” ―Dayton Daily News
“ Shantaram is loads of colorful fun, [it] rises to something grand in its evocations of the pungent chaos of Bombay. ” ―Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Shantaram is a true epic. It is a huge, messy, over-the-top irresistible shaggy-dog story.” ―The Seattle Times
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It not only did its job of entertaining, but got me to thinking philosophically about people when I was not reading it. Anybody that knows me would not consider me a philosophical thinker. That is why I rated the mood as thoughtful though it works up to to being every bit as much suspenseful. It is an incredible book that starts out interesting and moved on to the point where if I could manage to put it down by midnight I couldn't wait to get myself back to reading it. I read the book twice. After the first time I went to Southeast Asia, not including India which is the setting of the book, but once to Thailand and twice to Nepal. I really enjoyed the people and some of them could make me laugh harder than I ever have in my life. But they were always trying to pull petty scams. Then when I got back from my third trip I read Shantaram the second time and it put things into perspective. They assume we are all rich while the poorest of them live in plywood and cardboard houses with plastic scraps held down by rocks for a roof. So what is it for the Americans who likely paid over 2K Just to get there and back to get suckered in a petty scam. I thought about my loss of $60.00 to a scam and it seemed more ignorance on my part than a crime on their part and just learned to be more prepared and knowledgeable the next time I bought something. I really liked them other than having to be wary of the scam at any time. But that was all part of the some of the best experiences i had in my life. In addition when I saw how many people were poor and how they lived, I just considered it a donation to charity that can't be written off. Big Deal. Those were the best experiences I ever had.
I won't pretend that I can add much to the more than 2,900 other reviews at this point, but I did want to contribute a five star rating and a few reasons why I liked the book:
--this is the first book in many years that I found hard to put down--I read the whole book in less than a week, including several late-night reading sessions--very rare for me!
--frankly the writing style is good, but not great, and the same with the plot--but somehow the book works very very well.
--I think the main reason I liked the book was the author's skill at describing Bombay and its denizens. Having been to India a few times, I'd kind of written the place off, but Shantaram's Bombay is an utterly fascinating, exotic place full of fascinating, exotic characters. While I understand that this is a work of fiction, if even 10% of the book is based on fact, the author has lived an interesting life indeed.
There is no way you can truly understand Lin, his choices, love of danger and hold on constant living in a hyper warp life. Spoiling for a fight, living on adrenalin. He is exhausting and exhilarating. A wonderful read. I will read the sequel.
He came a bitter angry man, has had great loss, was out for only his own skin's survival, became not only the city's other city The Slum's doctor but inhabitant as well.
It has love, pain, mistakes, heartbreak and life's harshest lessons set inside a group of friends from all of life's corners that found themselves at a table in Leopold's where life takes them away and brings them back as the Arabian Sea comes to the shore.
Top international reviews
It is a long book, and I wonder if Robert's, the writer, could have achieved in 400 pages what has taken him 800+ pages - however it is a book that keeps your attention in both its story, and the beauty of how its told.
Defo recommend this book, you're in for a hell of a ride.
The ending is really nice too, a bit of closure.
This is a long read, 932 pages, of varying pace. The author presents himself as a lovable character, liked by almost everyone. His crimes are presented as regrettable but somehow noble...which can be difficult to swallow as the reader.
An entertaining story, though one that could perhaps have been edited down. Full of emotion, tragedy and adventure. It perhaps tries to be more philosophical than deserves at times. The most tantalising aspect is the unrecorded trip to the war in Sri Lanka, making it despite its length feel like it is missing closure - an irony as much of the book is about the protagonists achieving this themselves!
To say this is the best novel I've ever read would be a huge understatement, in my humble opinion it is the work of a genius, and I can honestly say it will live with me for a very long time, if not forever. 5 stars, WONDERFUL!!
It’s a long book, make no mistake. I read it before visiting India, I read it throughout a 3000 kilometre road trip through Northern India and I was still reading it a month after I got back. If you start this book you’re in for the long haul. But don’t let that put you off. This is a story that covers several adventures, several larger-than-life characters and for good measure serious philosophical theories are bounced around causing the reader to stop and ponder, if only for a few short minutes.
Do I like Gregory David Roberts? I don’t think so, but boy can he write!
Would I read another of his books? Not for several years, I don’t have the stamina. But this is one of those stories that everyone should read just once throughout their life.
A modern classic.
Oh, and tough. Did we cover that? Real tough. Jack Reacher ain't got shiz on the guy.
It's well-written in the sense that it's got decent prose. But dear God does it ever get tiring hearing about how hard but awesome a guy the author is, and the endless pearls of sophomoric wisdom don't help that much.