Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts

Published: 2003
Read: 2010
Genre: Autobiographical Fiction
Setting: India
Rating: 4
Review: Goodreads
Author's web site

Highly recommended by my sister-in-law. When I first started the book, absolutely loved it.  Couldn’t put it down - true page turner.  Fast moving plot.  Bombay as a character was fascinating.  Descriptions of people, slums, prison well done.  Scenes were graphic, vivid and real.  Written in the first person, the reader is right there, in the midst of all the action.  However, with 100 pages to go, got really bogged down.  Felt like Sunday brunch, when absolutely stuffed with great food and cannot eat another bite.  For me, it was 250 pages too long.

Story Synopsis
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is an autobiographical novel with strong elements of action/adventure, romance and travel.  Published in 2003, the novel is set in 20th century India, sometime in 1980 - 1990.  The story is centered in Mumbai or Bombay, India.  The city is a strong character in the book.  There is some time spent in a rural Indian villiage, and other cities/countries, most notably, Afghanistan/Pakistan.  The story begins with a man, Mr. Lindsay, who has been caught, tried and convicted of armed robbery in Australia, has escaped from a maximum security prison, and after being on the run for several years, ends up in Bombay.

Scenes: - very vivid, powerful, descriptive, interesting

  • Standing Babas
  • Madame Zhou’s
  • Child slavery
  • Legit and illegitimate slums
  • Leopolds
  • Bribery/corruption
  • Mob mentality
  • Bear hugging
  • Monsoon season
  • Fire in slums
  • Leper colony
  • Black markets
  • Prison - torture
  • Karla’s ultimatum
  • 3 month heroin
  • Afghanistan
 “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.”

 “For this is what we do.  Put one foot forward and then the other.  Lift our eyes to the snarl and smile of the world once more.  Think. Act. Feel.  Add our little consequences to the tides of good and evil that flood and drain the world.  Drag our shadowed crosses into the hope of another night.  Push our brave hearts into the promise of a new day.  With love: the passionate search for a truth other than our own. With longing: the pure, ineffable yearning to be saved.  For so long as fate keeps waiting, we live on.  God help us.  God forgive us.  We live on.”

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