Book Review : Shantaram

“A man and a book come into your life when you need them the most.” I remember reading this quote a while ago.

To say I stumbled across Shantaram would be a blatant lie, because Shantaram literally fell into my lap!

Every waking hour, minute and second of the past two weeks have been spent in the company of Shantaram. Visits, social and otherwise, have come down to nil. Avoiding phone calls and answering in monosyllables when spoken to is what I am mastering in.

Work, shopping, movies, the dining table, bed and even the loo, Shataram accompanies me everywhere I go.

All I want is to be left alone with Shantaram.

A brilliant novel by Gregory David Roberts.

Australia’s most wanted heroin addict and armed robber’s journey from prison to seeking refuge in the slums of Bombay.

From establishing a free health clinic in the slums, to learning local languages, he has done it all, of course, working for the mafia, acting in Bollywood, being worked over in an Indian prison and fighting with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan in between all this.

A un-put-down-able tale crafted with love that enthralls you at every stage. Philosophy, love, deceit, betrayal, all the ingredients needed to keep you hooked, are blended skillfully to hold your attention for all of 934 pages.

Endearing characters that stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Reflective, intelligent writing that pleases your intellect at every page.

Sample these;

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realized, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in the shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free, free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when its all you’ve got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life”

“The baked blue bowl of the Bombay sky”

“She spoke to herself, from her heart, in my language”

“Anger softened into sorrow, as it always does, as it always must. And no part of what we wanted, just an hours life before, was as rich in hope or meaning as a single teardrops fall”

Amazingly, Gregory David Roberts wrote Shantaram 3 TIMES, after prison guards thrashed the first two versions.

A sequel is in the offing and a movie too!!! Starring Johnny Depp,and produced by Russell Crowe no less!! ;-))))))))))))))

10 thoughts on “Book Review : Shantaram

  1. * nohairbrain :-)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

    *DRI- I hope you have a good read! :-))

  2. Dear Quicksilver,

    came across ur post while searcing for prison diaries and et al.

    could you please visit me at

    u seem a great and avid reader so i would like you to comment on the same.

  3. When I first read this review of yours, quite a few weeks back, I thought you had exaggerated quite a bit. When I started with Shantaram, my intial ideas strenghened of the book. Somehow Suketu Mehta, by writing Maximum City had written that ultimate intellectual book about Bombay. Gregory’s language made me cringe. It was as if he was showing off newer words and quotable quotes along every corner.

    Down to page 727 in less than 4 days, I hastily make amends. It is a brilliant book, if not for the way it is written but about WHAT it has been written. What can I say except that it has to a great deal humanised me!

  4. Thanks for the invite M 🙂 That first paragraph about choices was elemental in having me hooked!

    I’ve gotten back to reading post a long break thanks to Shantaram.

    Eye opening and heart warming in turn, while telling of the truths of the underbelly of one’s own city, in such vivid detail.

    It really makes me wonder how he can recount every moment having lived it so long ago.

    Beautiful, amazing…. 🙂

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