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Shantaram: A Novel Paperback – Sep 29 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 104 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 944 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (Oct. 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312330537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312330538
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 4.1 x 20.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 748 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 104 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

A thousand pages is like a thousand pounds--it sounds like too much to deal with. Nevertheless, Roberts' very long novel sails along at an amazingly fast clip. Readers in the author's native Australia apparently finished every page of it, for they handed it considerable praise. Now U.S. readers can enjoy this rich saga based on Roberts' own life: escape from a prison in Australia and a subsequent flight to Bombay, which is exactly what happens to Lindsay, the main character in the novel; once in Bombay, he joins the city's underground. Roberts graphically, even beautifully, evokes that milieu--he is as effective at imparting impressions as any good travel writer--in this complex but cohesive story about freedom and the lack of it, about survival, spiritual meaning, love, and sex; in other words, about life in what has to be one of the most fascinating cities in the world. One's first impression of this novel is that it is simply a good story, but one soon comes to realize that Roberts is also a gifted creator of characters--not only Lindsay but also Prabaker, who becomes Lindsay's guide, caretaker, and entree into various elements of Bombay society. Soon, too, one becomes aware and appreciative of Roberts' felicitous writing style. In all, despite the novel's length, it is difficult not to be ensnared by it. And, be forewarned, it will be popular. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A well written account of the love for a beautiful culture adopted as his own. The story begins with his arrival in Bombay after escaping prison in his homeland and his love of the people that took him in. Even though he came from a troubled past, he attempted to give back to the people of the slums. He immersed himself in their culture, learning their various dialects. He also gives an inside view of the mafia and their impact on the different religious wars and local gang wars. Awesome read!
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Format: Kindle Edition
I’ve put off reviewing this book simply because no words of mine can equal this storyteller, this bard. A 1000 years ago he’d be a strolling minstrel. Without a doubt this is the best exposition of the written word I’ve read in 20 years.

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.
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By Brenda Pink TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 18 2016
Format: Paperback
This "novel" is gritty and raw. The author claims it's a novel, but I think in fact, much of the book is a parallel to his own life in the slums of Bombay. This is not a pretty book, nor is it a feel good book. But it will take you deep into the depths of the slums, and deep into the depths of a soul that has seen hell and come back. Yet, there are redeeming features in both those slums and that soul. The book is hefty at 944 pages but I read it in a single day because I could not put it down. I already have the sequel, equally as lengthy, on order. A third book in the series is promised to be a prequel.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fantastic book. Even though it is long I was sad when it ended. Particularly when he described Bombay I truly felt I was transported to be right there with him, his descriptions were so on point and fascinating. Will be gifting more copies of it to my book lover friends.
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Format: Paperback
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!
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