Book - 2004
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Having escaped an Australian maximum security prison, a disillusioned man loses himself in the slums of Bombay, where he works for a drug kingpin, smuggles arms for a crime lord, and forges bonds with fellow exiles.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2004
Characteristics: 936 p. ; 25 cm
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780312330521


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A story set in India of survival, spiritual meaning, at times amusing and also violent. An amazing perspective of Indian culture and perseverance portrayed by great characters.

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Jul 24, 2018

This was recommended to me by a friend whose opinion I greatly respect.

However, the book is a morass of self aggrandising slurry. Gagged on it quite early on and could just not go on.

I see several 5 star ratings. Mine is 1/2 a star.

May 12, 2018

I’ve read this book twice,
and listened to the audiobook twice as well
(Humphrey Bower does a wonderful job of narrating this book,
complete with Indian, Australian, and Arabic accents.)
This is a rollicking, thoughtful story of India,
of crime and prison, of revenge, of love
and perhaps of redemption as well.
One of the five best books ever, IMO.

Nov 05, 2017

I learned from this book, and am glad I read it. The amount of violence was excessive to me, as was the level of attention to clothing and what people looked like. And it seemed crass at times. But the philosophical musings were stimulating, and the story fascinating.

bplbobbi Aug 12, 2017

i enjoyed this, but as others have pointed out it really could have used some editing.

Aug 08, 2017

RIch, detailed and difficult to put down. I couldn't wait to get back to the characters.

Feb 19, 2017

My friend raved about this book, but Roberts' florid and overwrought writing style was not for me. I much prefer spare and understated prose. Within a few chapters it was clear that the story was also not the sort I enjoy- it's a sordid drama involving the vices of a vast number of people, and I didn't have the energy to keep track of each one of the characters and their complex relationships. I didn't finish this.

Jan 22, 2017

Taken from web site. Synopsis of this book

So begins this epic, mesmerizing first novel set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear.

Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay's hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere.

As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums, and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The search leads him to war, prison torture, murder, and a series of enigmatic and bloody betrayals. The keys to unlock the mysteries and intrigues that bind Lin are held by two people. The first is Khader Khan: mafia godfather, criminal-philosopher-saint, and mentor to Lin in the underworld of the Golden City. The second is Karla: elusive, dangerous, and beautiful, whose passions are driven by secrets that torment her and yet give her a terrible power.

saramcgo Dec 19, 2016

I really wanted to like this book, and there are parts of it I loved-but overall this could have used a heavy handed edit. The sentences were bloated with adjectives that in the end did the author no favors setting a scene. The over-wrought scene-setting rendered this book a frustration to finish, not a joy to read.

Jul 22, 2016

I enjoyed this book. It reminded me of the old Shogun series - only you are in India.

Jul 22, 2016

This book is an epic tale that will make you feel every emotion known to mankind. It pulls you in from the very first paragraph. I was fully invested in the characters and felt like I lost some friends when the book ended. Well worth the read.

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Jul 05, 2010

atifv1 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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nk92hp Mar 26, 2010

Book Summary(

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.
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About the author (Book cover):
GREGORY DAVID ROBERTS was born in Melbourne, Australia. Sentenced to nineteen years in prison for a series of armed robberies, he escaped and spent ten of his fugitive years in Bombay - where he established a free medical clinic for slum-dwellers, and worked as a counterfeiter, smuggler, gunrunner, and street soldier for a branch of the Bombay mafia. Recaptured, he served out his sentence, and established a successful multimedia company upon his release. Roberts is now a full-time writer and lives in Bombay.


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