I've had this book on my TBR stack for over a year--he size of it itself is very daunting: nearly a thousand pages of small print. Once I started it, I could see that it was a very dense, rich novel, and it did take me over 2 weeks to finish it, which is longer than any other novel in recent history has taken me. I guess you'd call it a literary novel in some respects--he author certainly has a way with words, and I found myself grabbing my journal and scribbling down quotations from it very frequently. Some flowery and wordy, others simple yet very profound, and still others that sucker-punched me right in the guts and quite literally took my breath away.
It's a semi-autobiographical novel about an Australian man who is a convicted criminal (armed robbery and heroin dealing) who escapes from an Australian prison and is a fugitive for many years, living most of them in Bombay, India. He becomes immersed in the Indian culture, learning two of their languages, living in their slums and eventually becoming a member of the Bombay mafia. While there, he lives, loves, and has a series of very wild and interesting adventures, including becoming involved in the Russian-Afghani war near Kandahar. This is a long, long book but a very good one, too. It's about India, yes--but it's also about life, the universe and everything. At some point after the events in the book take place, he is recaptured and serves out the remainder of his prison term and he wrote this book while in prison. I'm very glad I finally got to reading this book, though I know it's not for everyone--there's lots of graphic violence, and in parts gets long-winded and slows down. Not everyone will love it, though I do recommend everyone at least give it a try. Superb!
This is the best book I've read in a long time. It was given to me by my son and I held on to it for over a year before I ever attempted it (the size is intimidating.) Since my son and I do not generally have the same taste in books (I go for much lighter reading than he does), I didn't expect to get through it but I was so pleasantly surprised and very happy that I finally opened it. I knew nothing about India but this book really brought that country and its people alive for me and made me want to visit someday. I really enjoyed the character Prabaker -- he was hilarious and so, so lovable. I thought Lin (the author and main character) came across a bit full of himself at times, but his writing is excellent and his descriptions are just great! I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a long, involved, but really fascinating story.
I wish I had read this book before traveling to India. There is so much to like about it, that I hesitate to criticize that small portion of the book that focuses on the philosophy of the leader of the Bombay mafia. That was difficult for me to swallow as it was a little preach-y. The rest of the book (the vast majority of the book) is action packed and, more to the point, paints a vivid, colorful and accurate picture of so much of what I saw there. It's a lengthy book, but difficult to put down. I'm glad I read it.
Having visited India myself, I can vouch for the many accurate descriptions in this book. It's definitely lengthy, but it gives you a great chance to immerse yourself for the weekend!
This is absolutely THE best book I have ever read. I find that amazing to say as I have literally read several thousand throughout my life. I was captured irretrievably by the first sentence and couldn't put the book down until I finished it. I only slept a few hrs. a night throughout the weekend it took to do so.
Amazing in its' scope and depth- covering the vast range of extraordinary experiences that were these chapters in Mr. Roberts life--I don't doubt that this is a completely true account of that life even tho' it is labled a "novel based on his life". No one could write so deeply and with such insight and compassion about a panorama of experience with the human condition and detail of place without a first hand knowledge of what he writes.
It truly does "have everything" love, passion, compassion, cruelty, suspense, mystery, Spirituality, surprise, tragedy, damnation and Redemption. And a view of India and her culture that I would wager an infintestimal number of Westerners have ever had the chance to read about before, let alone experience first-hand.
I was in love w. Mr. Roberts before the first third was done. And was delighted to hear that he has had the movie rights purchased for $8 million by none other than Johnny Depp. That's a movie I will put down a book for-- altho' with the scope of Shantaram I'm not sure exactly how such a movie can be made!
I recommend this book to anyone who reads. Just be prepared to turn off the phone,disconnect the doorbell and cancel all outings and visitors because even if you want to your attention will not be focused anywhere but this amazing book for the duration.