by Gregory David Roberts
St Martin's Press
Read by Humphrey Bower
Buy from Indigo
Description: "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."
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.
Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas---this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and a passionate love for India at its heart. Based on the life of the author, it is by any measure the debut of an extraordinary voice in literature
- I can't lie if I had to read this I might have been frustrated with but listening to it was a truly memorable experience - Thanks Jen for recommending this one
- Truly one of the most beautifully lyrical and poetic tales that reads like an autobiograpy (and from my understanding of the author it is based on his life story) His use of language is gorgeous
- Humphrey Bower has a remarkeble talent for voice work
- I trust you not to fall in love with Prabakar
- Broke my hear I was actually bawling at one point while listening (just before I had to pick up my son from Kindergarden)
- I just didn't buy his obsession with Karla, found her to be meh (and if I had to listen to him talk about her eyes one more time I was going to scream)
- Utterly mesmorizing and you lose yourself in Lin's world
- Its like 5 stories in one
- Each and every character is fully developed and flawed and so very human
- Wonderful insights into various cultures - and made me think of my own inner preconceived notions about these various cultures
- For the first time in my life I have a desire to see that part of the world - the author truly brought it to life
- Shows the beauty andzest for life of those who live in poverty
- Such universal truths throughout the story
- No spoilers but all I can say is Prabakar!!!!
- Perfectly said about the treatments of the soldiers worldwide
- The treatment of prisoners was appalling - just to break someones spirit
- Ewww the insects
- Learned a lot of history
- Makes you think about the nature of life, good vs evil, too much power in too few hands (a quote as well), crime and punishment, god and so much more
- Story still stays with me many weeks after listening to
- On many occasions I had this same idea in my head while listening "The separation that they found so easy and instinctual-this is my criminal life, over here, and that's my religious life, over there-was impossible for me" I had a hard time understanding that those who live a life of crime can be so religious is an alien thing to me, yet I found myself understanding and loving these characters - very weird
- Excellent book for a book club (a serious one though)
Memorable Passages (Sorry couldn't choose only 3 this time)
“It's forgiveness that makes us what we are. Without forgiveness, our species would've annihilated itself in endless retributions. Without forgiveness, there would be no history. Without that hope, there would be no art, for every work of art is in some way an act of forgiveness. Without that dream, there would be no love, for every act of love is in some way a promise to forgive. We live on because we can love, and we love because we can forgive.”
“That's how we keep this crazy place together - with the heart. Two hundred fuckin' languages, and a billion people. India is the heart. It's the heart that keeps us together. There's no place with people like my people, Lin. There's no heart like the Indian heart.”
"I told him that on the journey you had loose motions, and you made such a mess in your over-underpants that we had to throw them away.' 'You told him,' I asked, 'that I shit my pants?' 'Oh, yes, Lin. I certainly couldn't tell him that you have no over-underpants!' 'Well, of course not.”
"Nothing ever fits the palm so perfectly, or feels so right, or inspires so much protective instinct as the hand of a child"
"Every life, every love, every action and feeling and thought has its reason and significance: its beginning, and the part it plays in the end. Sometimes, we do see..Nothing in any life, no matter how well or poorly lived, is wiser than failure or clearer than sorrow. And in the tiny, precious wisdom they give to us, even those dread and hated enemies, suffering and failure, have their reason and their right to be.
I went to war. .... I survived, while other men around me died. ... men whose lives were crunched up in mistakes, and thrown away by the wrong second of someone else's hate, or love, or indifference.
I purchased this from Audible and well lets face it, everything I read or listen to, I share with you