Shantaram

Reading 933 pages of the ‘Shantaram‘ novel can be tedious especially when you do not have the time and are only reading 2 or 3 chapters per day. Nevertheless, ‘Shantaram‘ is an interesting novel. A novel that takes the reader through Mumbai’s ugliest places and the grim and the dust of the city to the paradise of Goa to the cold, brutal Afghan mountains.

Shantaram‘ I think is a partly true story of the author, Gregory David Roberts who escaped from an Australian prison. The novel speaks of his entry into the then Bombay and his journey through the city. The protagonist mingles with people in Leopold, is forced to stay in a slum, starts a clinic there and even comes to enjoy his life in the slum. He joins the mafia to earn cash, gets involved in gang war and the war in Afghanistan. He comes to love India and learns valuable lessons of life as well. The book ends on a hopeful message giving a grand message simultaneously.

Its a one of a kind novel where India in general and Mumbai in particular can be seen from a different perspective of a foreigner. India or Mumbai are neither degraded nor are they glorified unnecessarily but are portrayed objectively with plus and minus points. For once, it is good to see an author describing Mumbai’s slums, Arthur Road Jail etc. and not romantically babbling about only Marine Drive, Gateway or Taj. (I mean Mumbai is much more than those things).

On the other hand, the novel was a tad too long. Gregory Roberts could have easily shortened the story. There are a few loose ends like whether the author goes back to Australia or stays back in Mumbai and if he does, what does he do–be with the mafia or start something else. (Hopefully he will write a sequel soon with lesser pages though).

So I say that ‘Shantaram‘ is a good book but read it when you have all the time in the world. Reading the book slowly drags the story and takes the pace out of it.

7 thoughts on “Shantaram

    • yeah its really a good book….who is directing the film? I didnt know about this at all…Hopefully it will be true to the book!

  1. Pingback: 2010 in review « Book Cafe

  2. “”India or Mumbai are neither degraded nor are they glorified “”

    agree to that point plus very time taking + sequel coming soon

    overall a good read bt u hav to give it time

    • Hey, I am glad you agree with my point!!! and yes, this book needs a lot of patience and a lot of time on hand. I read the whole book in the train and believe me that takes a LOT of time which makes the book’s pace even more slow! But there are equally huge books and some even bigger that have a good pace and do not seem to drag even though i read them entirely in the train like for eg, ‘The Glass Palace’ by Amitav Ghosh.

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