Book rating: 04 Paperback Abacus

By (author) Gregory David Roberts

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  • Publisher: Abacus
  • Format: Paperback | 944 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 198mm x 46mm | 660g
  • Publication date: 1 April 2005
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0349117543
  • ISBN 13: 9780349117546
  • Sales rank: 139

Product description

A novel of high adventure, great storytelling and moral purpose, based on an extraordinary true story of eight years in the Bombay underworld. 'In the early 80s, Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin addict, escaped from an Australian prison to India, where he lived in a Bombay slum. There, he established a free health clinic and also joined the mafia, working as a money launderer, forger and street soldier. He found time to learn Hindi and Marathi, fall in love, and spend time being worked over in an Indian jail. Then, in case anyone thought he was slacking, he acted in Bollywood and fought with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan ...Amazingly, Roberts wrote Shantaram three times after prison guards trashed the first two versions. It's a profound tribute to his willpower ...At once a high-kicking, eye-gouging adventure, a love saga and a savage yet tenderly lyrical fugitive vision.' Time Out

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Author information

Gregory David Roberts was born in Melbourne in 1952. After surviving the events dealt with in Shantaram, he was captured in Germany in 1990 and eventually extradited to Australia. On completing his prison sentence, he established a small multi-media company and is now a full-time writer. He is currently working on The Mountain Shadow, a sequel to Shantaram, being the continuing adventures of Lin, Karla and all the other characters still standing at the end of Shantaram, and with a host of new characters and locations in Europe and West Asia.

Customer reviews

By Sharon Moloney 07 Mar 2013 5

I happened upon this book by chance and opened the first page and was hooked. It's not subject matter (escaped prisoner, crime, drugs) which I seek out but I couldn't put it down. The writer's style is descriptive, flowing and personal with quite a philosophical lean to it, while not taking anything away from the story. I found myself enthralled with his engagement of life in India, especially the slums. Gregory David Roberts' next novel is out at the end of 2013 and I've already ordered a copy. Think I'll re-read this one first though!

By Thomas Das 09 Nov 2011 5

This book was a gift to me from my daughter-in-law Nondita. Usually I do not read books which are thick and so decided to browse a few chapters
and put it aside. BUT after reading this few chapters, I just couldn't part with it. I actually felt I was at Bombay, at the slums, coffee corners and also the trip to Afghanistan. The author is so vivid that you would live through every episode. It is just plain brilliant, skilfully written and relates
closely with the reader. I would strongly recommend this book to all reades.

Thomas Das

By Hans van Dijk 22 Feb 2011 5

This is absolutely the most impressive book I've ever read! The way Gregory David Roberts tells his fantastic story is just breathtaking. The book is full of inspiring life lessons and filled with beautiful quotes. Don't let the 900 pages scare you, you truly wishes there were another 900 to go at the end. I absolutely loved the book, read it twice already, and seriously hope you will read it as well. Spread the word! Shantaram is a masterpiece.

By Richard Brandt 23 Dec 2010 3

Based on true events during the 1980s, Shantaram recounts the experiences of a man who settles in India after escaping an Australian prison. Roberts tells us his story, from his escape, through to making a life for himself in a slum town in the heart of Bombay, now called Mumbai, to his rise through the ranks as a foreigner among Bombay's notorious organised crime syndicate. Roberts' story tells of adventure, betrayal, new friendships, love and loss all within the context of the extremities of life in India.

Shantaram is an undertaking for the reader. Despite offering a rich narrative filled with classic tales of adventure checkered with artistically written explorations of deep aspects of the human psyche, the novel overall lacks a clear direction, rather presenting itself as a chronology of events over a vast period of time which at times feel detached from one another, rendering it somewhat difficult to read making hard to maintain interest. I often felt as though there was simply too much going on at different times and that small events were not often linked to the core story well enough. I do fell this book could have benefited from some heavier editing and a slight reorganisation of events.

That said, Shantaram offers a rich and unmitigated account of life in twenty year old India, complete with its corruption, bribery and criminal undertakings, featuring stark contrasts between the hardship of its poor and the booming economic prosperity of its wealthy. It depicts tales of adventure and stories of unbelievable torture and human endurance on the part of its author.

Shantaram is an epic work of artistic, literary wonder.

By Laura Ylitalo 22 Jul 2010 5

Really, this is a book that shook my life and changed my way of thinking. The storyline is amazing, and so is the lenght of it! But it doesen�?�´t get boring at any point, and the best thing about it is that it actually happened. I am truly grateful for the man that wrote the book, it really made me think about the world that we live in, and about the world that others live in. This really is a masterpiece, and I recommend it to everyone who likes interesting stories of adventure and life!

Review quote

A literary masterpiece ... at once erudite and intimate, reflective and funny ... it has the grit and pace of a thriller DAILY TELEGRAPH Powerful and original ... a remarkable achievement SUNDAY TELEGRAPH Extraordinarily vivid ... a gigantic, jaw-dropping, grittily authentic saga DAILY MAIL A publishing phenomenon SUNDAY TIMES