le 3 juin 2011
I flat out love this book. At 900 pages, I was actually saddened when it ended. The story reads like prose. At times one wondered if the author was trying too hard to impress, but his beautiful, captivating style was demonstrated so often and almost effortlessly that the thought was put to rest.
One of the things I love is the multitude of genres included in this story. Romance, action,adventure, philosophy. All of these and more are blended in to this one mans figurative and literal journey. Another aspect I both loved and loathed was the jarring change of pace that happened at least 3-4 times. You're cozy, you're enjoying the scenery then WHAM! The trajectory flips 180 degrees and you're shaking your head wondering if it really DID just happen. I grew to love this device as I was never allowed to get TOO comfortable.
If there's one negative, and it's not exactly small- it's that I put the book down twice and had to read 200 pages before I found myself entrenched. I was very close to giving up, but am sooo glad I jumped back on board. After those 200 pages I could not stop reading nor could I wait to get back to find out what was going on with these beautifully imagined characters and the world they inhabited. I work in a book store and whenever this book comes up from someone who's read it, I find myself talking for 5-10 minutes to passionate readers both male and female. If you can, do what I did and don't read what it's about. Just dive in and let the author immerse you in his characters world.
le 5 septembre 2011
The story is superb. It is intriguing, completely out of the ordinary, and a great plot for any novel.
The style of writing is, as a couple of commenters have also echoed, self-indulgent and over-dramatic at times. The author is prone to spending pages waxing poetic on personal ideologies on life, love, and even existentialism. Although these themes may be related to the novel's development, the time and effort dedicated to describing them do not add to the novel. In general, the author tends to be very eloquent, and the language over-use became distracting and made the novel difficult to read as the story wore on.
le 2 décembre 2010
Stars: 6.0 (out of 5)
The sensational epic novel Shantaram by Australian author Gregory David Roberts is one that I don't think I will ever forget for as long as I live. It is the best book I have ever read and giving it 5 stars just isn't enough to express how much I loved it and what a profound effect its author has had on the way I look at the world.
This is a book I savored like a last bottle of water in the desert, while reading several others in between over a period of five months, because I never wanted it to end. Its gripping, visceral descriptions of prison life will make you squirm in your seat and its heartrending passages about the loss of loved ones will have you weeping uncontrollably, but it will also make you daydream, smile, and laugh out loud.
The theme of Shantaram is the exile experience, alienation, and man's quest for meaning. It's also about shame and self-loathing, sadness and hope, fear and forgiveness, poverty and true wealth, understanding and catharsis. And above all, it is about love.
Shantaram (which is actually the second book in a trilogy that has not yet been published) for the most part takes place in Bombay (Mumbai) and the author's knowledge and love for the Indian people is so intoxicating and infectious that it will make you want to visit India with the hope that you will come to know its people in the same way. He describes the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feel of India (as well as his romantic retreat in Goa and the war torn and ravaged Afghanistan) with as much perfect detail, love and care as a famous artist put into his masterpiece with each strategic brush stroke.
Shantaram is the story of the indomitable spirit of a man who has lost everything - whose will to survive is astonishing - and the lengths to which he will fight to climb out of the abyss, absolutely astounding. The main character who has a number of names: Linbaba, Lin, Shantaram...is a man who feels damned and beyond redemption because of the crimes he's committed (robbery, smuggling, gunrunning, counterfeiting, and working as a street soldier for the Bombay mafia) but who manages to find light, peace and salvation through the relationships he shares with the people he loves.
"It's forgiveness that makes us what we are. Without forgiveness, our species would've annihilated itself in endless retributions. Without forgiveness, there would be no history. Without that hope, there would be no art, for every work of art is in some way an act of forgiveness. Without that dream, there would be no love, for every act of love is in some way a promise to forget. We live on because we can love, and we love because we can forgive."
Based on many of the true life experiences of Gregory David Roberts - who after the failure of his marriage in Australia became a heroin addict, robber, inmate, escapee, and finally a refugee hiding out in India - Shantaram is stellar fiction that will leave you with many questions about how much of the story actually happened and how much was devised by Roberts' literary genius. You may also find yourself falling in love with its author because of his intellect, charisma, and the sheer magnitude of his gigantic heart.
This book should be required reading for every college and university student on the planet. It's a story that should be read, if possible, before embarking on the major part of your life's journey. It is filled with so many exquisitely written passages and profound and remarkable quotes that you will be able to find something in it to express almost every situation you could possibly encounter.
"Everything you ever sense, in touch or taste or sight or even thought, has an effect on you that's greater than zero. Some things, like the background sound of a bird chirping as it passes your house in the evening, or a flower glimpsed out of the corner of an eye, have such an infinitesimally small effect that you can't detect them. Some things, like triumph and heartbreak, and some images, like the image of yourself reflected in the eyes of a man you've just stabbed, attach themselves to the secret gallery and they change your life forever."
The characters, particularly his closest friends outside of the mafia council, such as Prabaker, Johnny Cigar, Qasim Ali Hussein and the slum dwellers, and the European crowd from Leopold's Bar: Karla, Lisa, Didier, Ulla and Modena, Maurizio, Lettie and Vikram, Scorpio George and Gemini George, as well as Abdullah, Khader Khan and the other members of the Bombay mafia, are richly developed and fully realized and as a reader you become invested in them as you experience their joys and tragedies. I believe that some of these characters were amalgamations of several different people who Roberts knew in India in the 80s, but the world he creates through their eyes is as complex and colourful as the one we live in at this moment. Rarely, have I read a book that so completely transported me into the author's world and seldom have I thought of one so much after I'd put the book down.
As I read the last few pages of this giant tome, tears trickled down my face, because of what Roberts had written in ending this part of his tale, and because I had come to the end and now I have to wait for the sequel to be published; hopefully in September 2011. Having a writer's work that is this good, to look forward to, is something exceptional indeed. Gregory David Roberts' life has been beyond extraordinary.
le 3 janvier 2006
This book is just simply extraordinary in every sense! It has action, excitement, romance, intrigue, history, philosophy, travel, and so much more. One would think, with so many topics covered, that it would be a confusing mish-mash, but it is nothing of the sort. It is spell-binding - very hard to put down - & written with such smooth beauty and depth, that many passages take your breath away. The writer was born to write. It is obviously semi-autobiographical, which makes it even more fascinating. I most highly recommend this novel as an absolutely satisfying and fascinating experience, on many levels! Read it!
le 3 décembre 2007
I love this book. I originally wrote a review for "Shantaram" and gave it only four stars because sometimes Roberts writes purple prose. My conscience tormented me. I decided "Shantaram" is like a Bollywood movie, a bit of everything--adventure, travel writing, romance, tragedy, comedy, philosophy, religion, and science. Maybe the purple prose bits work somehow in all this, offsetting the gorgeous literary writing passages, the travel writing blurbs, and the action stretches. The effect is addictive. It was rainy and dreary in Vancouver, but through "Shantaram" I was in the humid heat of Mumbai. What I loved best was Roberts' compassion, his love for people that makes his characters so real. The scope of his writing covers a wide array of Mumbai life, from slum dwellers to doctors, to film producers and mafia bosses. I wanted to share this great read and gave the book away--now I'm going to buy another copy to reread myself.
le 30 octobre 2005
AMAZING! This book has everything captivated into it. Mystery, Romance, Crime, Friendship EVERYTHING! It is very hard down this magnificent piece of work. It is very easy to read, flows very nicely and it keeps you going. It makes you feel as if you Gregory is sitting beside you telling his story. I suggest that everyone take a chance to read this amazing work. Don let the thickness scare you, it is a very easy read, EXCEPTIONAL!
le 8 novembre 2013
I LOVED this book - I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. Gregory David Roberts' based-on-life-experience storytelling is excellent and compelling. The hero is an imperfect, regular yet extraordinary guy, and the people he meets are so true-to-life and endearing they become your friends too. Shantaram offers an excellent "visit" to all levels of Bombay society, and insights into life in India (wonderful for those, like me, who have never travelled there), and his Westerner's view on Indian customs and lifestyles is beautifully thoughtful and compassionate.
There is another book in the works that many many of his readers are waiting for with open arms, and I am one of them!
le 23 février 2010
I'm a voracious reader, and read over 50 books a year. My favorite books are adventure stories of all kinds.
I would probably never have picked this book up off the shelf at the bookstore as it just looks a little too new agey for me... but then I had a friend recommend it to me. He kept on bringing it up, and then one day he stuffed it in my hands and said "Look, just read the first chapter and then put it down. I dare you."
Three chapters in I was laughing out loud and half weeping at the same time. Reading this book is like entering a whole new life, one full of the highest highs and the lowest lows a human being can experience.
I really don't know if there is a better book on my very large shelf. It has it all - the deepest love, the most brutal hand to hand fighting, sickness and freedom, hatred and forgiveness, blood and horror and insanity and redemption. And its all a true tale.
After I was half way through I was seized with the uncomfortable realization that I may in fact be reading the best book I am ever going to read in my lifetime.
It really, truly is that good. It has become my most gifted book and everyone I share it with is profoundly moved by it. I only gave it five stars because 50 isn't an option.
le 21 août 2009
...just curl up with this wonderful author and enjoy the ride ... never will you have another reading adventure such as this ... I envy you for not having read it yet ...
le 29 septembre 2013
I have had the pleasure of reading this book twice. The first time was in Mexico on our first year of sailing. This time, I’ve read it in Australia after traveling through and living in various emerging countries. The reason I’m mentioning this, is the first time I read the book, I cringed at the living conditions in the slum. Now, with a different perspective, I totally agree with the authour that “often those with less are richer in love and depth of life”.
The writing is excellent. It is deep, complex and so colourful that you can visualize everything. “I asked, pushing a canoe of thought, out into the uncharted water of his ideas.”
Roberts’ characterization is so well done that I felt I knew the main characters personally. He was able to show different sides of every character, so that they were truly three dimensional. The angry killer Abdullah said after a little girl gave him a garland of flowers “There is no act of faith more beautiful than the generosity of the very poor”.
This book is a work of fiction, based loosely on a true story, with only the imprisonment and escape at the beginning being a matter of public record. Robert’s explains in his webpage and interviews that the book is not an auto-biography. He wanted to write a fiction book that was a page-turner and also felt like fact.
I enjoyed this book even more the second time. It is the story of a man who turned to drugs and ended up in jail after armed robberies to feed his habit. Once on the run in India, he was a lost man. He couldn’t go home, so he had to sever all ties. He was full of guilt over his selfish and destructive habits, and was totally conflicted as a human being.
The ending left more questions than answers and keeps us looking forward to the sequel, which is being written now.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to ask life’s difficult questions as well as exploring the conflicts in life and emotionally. Anyone who enjoys well-written literature, stories about other countries and an amazing story of adventure, adversity, personal conflict, love and human relationships would be rewarded by reading this book.
Diana Young- World Traveler – currently sailing in the South Pacific for six months and #1 Amazon Best-selling author of Financial Fitness for Beginners.