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Shantaram

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  64,086 ratings  ·  7,258 reviews
"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 f...more
Paperback, 936 pages
Published 2004 by Scribe (first published 2003)
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Mallikarjun shantaram is the 2nd part of the series gdr is supposed to write. there's gonna be a prequel to it and a sequel too. The next book is called 'the…moreshantaram is the 2nd part of the series gdr is supposed to write. there's gonna be a prequel to it and a sequel too. The next book is called 'the mountain shadow'. Its the sequel to shantaram. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Petra Xtra Crunchy
Like Marmite, or Vegemite - another Australian export - you either loved this book or hated it. I hated it. I really, really hated it. It was a waste of my life enduring five chapters of this egotistical drivel by someone who thought their life was 933-pages worth of importance. He was an escaped convict from an Australian prison and I bet his fellow prisoners and warders must have sighed with relief to no longer be victims of this self-righteous man's endless burble of cod-philosophy, 'deep' in...more
Joseph
Apr 20, 2008 Joseph rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: dimwitted psuedo-philosophers, the author's mother
My god. What an incredible load of drivel this is. Though there is room in the world for large stories largely told, Gregory David Roberts' self-aggrandazing pseudo-autobiography teems with ludicrously bad prose, characters so flat I'd like to use them to keep water off my bathroom floor, dimwitted philosophy, and self-love. I quite literally had to stop reading from embarassment at the sex scenes ("my body was her chariot and she rode me into the sun"? ye gods), and repeatedly found myself sayi...more
Amy Luke
Jan 26, 2008 Amy Luke rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who reads
There's enough reviews on this book I'm not going to summarize it again. I love this book, and yes it's massive but I think I've read it 3 times. It's not perfect but the parts that are great make up for the wobbly bits. I thought I'd throw in some of the lines I liked:

"The world and I are not on speaking terms," Karla said to me once in those early months. "The world keeps trying to win me back," she said, "but it doesn't work. I guess I'm just not the forgiving type."

"If you want to curdle the...more
Jen Padgett Bohle
If I met the protagonist, Linbaba, in the flesh, I'd, well, I'd beg my meatiest friend to rough him up. Repeatedly. Lin's adventures in Bombay are apparently based on humble author Gregory David Roberts's exploits playing savior and mafiosi there while in hiding after a daring escape from an Australian prison (thanks for a fellow goodreader for correcting me ---I had previously written New Zealand). LinBaba becomes irksome and tiresome after Part 1, repeatedly offering little nuggets of pseudowi...more
Jennifer
This is possibly the best book I've ever read. It was given to me by a friend of mine who loved it, and said that before she read it she had no desire to go to India, but after having read it she couldn't wait to go.

This book is over 900 pages, so I found it a little challenging to start b/c I didn't want to carry it around with me to read on the bus (too bulky) and I was so tired each night that I couldn't read more than a page or two. But I finally got a chance to read a small chunk of it in o...more
Christopher
Jan 29, 2008 Christopher rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no-one
I managed 200 pages of this utter drivel before giving up completely. Poorly-written nonsense which is gathering critical acclaim from people who probably read one book a year.

At one point - during a scene when the narrator is looking at a river - he ACTUALLY writes: 'I was thinking of another river. A river that runs through all of us. The river of the heart.'

I do not have time in my life for this sub-Danielle Steel horseshit.
Stacey
I moved this from my "currently reading" shelf to my "read" shelf because there is no "I gave up on this piece of crap" shelf. 600 pages into it, I had to set myself free by throwing it in the toilet. No, seriously, I threw it in the toilet. Then I had to fish it out and clean the deluge of toilet water all over the place created by this tremendously large and heavy piece of crap book. This book makes me angry because I will never get that 600 pages of my life back. I could have been doing somet...more
Mairead
I've raced through this book. I launched from the starting block and whipped around the track, throwing off any ounce that kept me from pounding those pages into oblivion. And while I should feel exhausted and spent, I feel a calm energy, winding through my body like the inevitable thrum of traffic in Bombay or the warm steam unfurling from a cup of hot chai.

Shantaram, the latest in my conquests of literature about India, has captivated me. While the author's own personal history is enthralling...more
Mayuri
The way Roberts describes Indians in this book is like a series of bad caricatures - I cringed terribly. There is the over-friendly and smiling, trusting, barbaric, not very clever, poor Prabaker - (I HATED the way he wrote Prabaker's English. It made him sound like a racist Disney character or like the golum from LOTR) to the cool and smooth Iranian gangster (if you like ridiculous Bollywood movies, this is the book for you!) In typical fashion, the white guy is the hero of nearly every scene,...more
Nicole
Dec 04, 2007 Nicole rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people going to India
Gripping story. Beautiful descriptions of India and its people. Rhetorical dialogue provides provocative one-line philosophical nuggets:

"Civilization, after all, is defined by what we forbid, more than what we permit."

"The worst thing about corruption as a system of government is that it works so well."

"A lot of bad stuff in the world wasn't really that bad until someone tried to change it."

"The truth is a bully that everyone pretends to like."

"A dream is where a wish and a fear meet. A nightma...more
MacK
I had been told that this was a beautiful love story. And it was; in between the parts where he mopes over lost loves so much that you feel like you're back in a middle school girl gripefest.

I had been told that this was a philosophically profound book. And it was; except for the passages where Roberts smug knowledge of "complexity" made you want to punch every philosophy major you ever knew right in the face as a proxy.

I had been told that this was a riveting page turner. And it was; until he g...more
Chuckell
This book bugs.

Of course, I knew that I could have defeated the stoned, terrifying swordsman with just my fists. . . .

Fortunately, my friends had given me a gigantic first-aid kit before I left, so I had enough medicine to cure the scores of burn victims. . . .

The guards had given me--the dangerous convict doing hard labor--an extra-long, heavy-duty extension cord that I was able use to scale the prison wall. . . .

I saw in his eyes the shining crowning glory of a soul at utmost peace and his...more
Marnie
Have you ever been in a relationship that you were just done with but you were hoping they would end it and so you suffer through, day after day, rolling your eyes every time that person does that THING that you HATE and, yah, it was kind of fun at first but if they keep doing that THING that you HATE, you are going to end up saying something really mean and you really don't want to do that because they mean well and are nice but they just drive you up the wall?

You know what you need to do? You...more
Laura
The New York Times nailed Shantaram when they said that it is "nothing if not entertaining." The problem is trying to find what else it is. Nine hundred pages of page-turning narrative and I wonder if I have gained anything by it. The characters lack fullness and complexity, the narrator is absurd, and the language suffers the burden of passages so heavily cliched and saturated with bite-sized pseudo-philosophical tidbits as to reduce the novel to little more than a self-help book. Here's one pa...more
Lara
I loved, loved the first part of this book. The author's description of arriving in Mumbai is so similar to my experience - the sites and smells, staying in Colaba, the restaurants visited - it really brought back my trip to a city I loved.

However, I've had to put this one down for a bit of a break. I just have the feeling Gregory David Roberts is pretty far up his own ass and I'm not sure I'm buying what he's selling.

What's making it hard to just sit back and enjoy this book is Robert's descrip...more
Greg
I feel like a bit of an asshole for giving this three stars.

Most of my goodreads friends have given this five stars, some four and one person hated it, but it feels like this is a fairly universally loved book. What is my problem?

Even outside of the little goodreads universe, people love this book. Jonathan Carroll tells me in his blurb that I'm, "either heartless or dead or both" for remaining untouched by this book (but that is not really true, I was touched by this book, and I have a great...more
Arah-Lynda
Aug 13, 2014 Arah-Lynda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Arah-Lynda by: Arah-Leah Hay
Shelves: top, 2011, i-said
I have spent the last two weeks in Roberts's seductive, chaotic, slum filled, audacious Bombay, full of vibrant, wonderful, charismatic characters. This is a grand, sprawling, intelligent, autobiographical novel, elegantly written and splendidly evocative of an India I would otherwise never know.
As I sit here trying to decide how to best sum up just what this novel is about I realize that it is about everthing. All of life's many lessons are here in this huge, sweeping, monumental story; but mo...more
Antara
It's taken me 3 attempts in 4 years to finish this book - I cannot stress this fact enough as I'm one of those obsessive compulsive readers and every time I leave a book unfinished, I swear I can feel it staring back accusingly from my bookshelf until I'm compelled to pick it up again. And having finally turned the last page, I've figured out why this book is both highly recommended as well as painfully difficult to finish.

The problem very simply is this - the first and last parts of the book ar...more
Chak
Aug 26, 2008 Chak rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Peter Chelk.
Whew! This whirlwind of a book was a reader's feast. The recurring themes of forgiving, choosing love over hate, recognizing each person's ability to change his fate, and "doing the wrong thing for the right reasons" can make this book read like a self-help book or confessional visit at times. Yet, it is also a lush (and sometimes overwritten) swashbuckling adventure, an ambient study of Bombay, a crime novel, a doomed love story as well as a philosophical travelogue akin to "On the Road" or "Ze...more
Britta
I read this book two summers ago in the intermittent stage of employment, unemployment and my triumphant return to higher education and I say this because in terms of girth, Shantaram is one of the largest books I've ever had the courage or time to take on. You will need to be unemployed with very few commitments to consume this book. It's massive nine-hundred and thirty three pages demand your attentive loyalty until the end. But if you have the time and devotion to give it a go or you're just...more
Mehrsa
I haven't enjoyed reading a book this much in a long time. Even though it was over 900 pages, I didn't want it to end. I wanted to know more about Lin's life and just keep hearing about his insights and about India and whatever he wanted to talk about. This book is a semi-autobiographical story of a man who escapes prison in Australia and escapes to Bombay and lives there for many years. First he sets up a clinic in the slums and then he works for the Bombay mafia and in the meantime, he just ha...more
Debra
This is one of those rare books that I couldn't put down at first and then WANTED to read slowly at the end because I so didn't want the pleasure of reading it--all 1000 pages of it--to cease. It's got the spiritual quest of The Razor's Edge; the redemptive beauty of The Kite Runner; the descriptive adventures of The Sorcerer's Apprentice; and the drugs, brutality, prostitution, and violence of The Godfather. While I might have enjoyed the time the narrator spent navel-gazing(and the resulting p...more
Nicholas
ok... I'm about 3/4 of the way through and this book needs to end now.
Thought I'd hit the wall sooner, but the story pulls you along quite well for the most part.
But my limit has been reached. This book does NOT need to be SO long. If you only took out the dopey description of Karla's eyes he dribbles on with every time he mentions her, you'd knock off a few thousand words to start with. We get it dude. She has nice eyes. Get over it. Yes, yes, they are like a hidden lagoon at dusk, shimmering p...more
Duygu
This book has lots of teachings which one should have his/her own copy because it is a very personal ride one takes with this book. You have to underline the sentences that touched your heart and you should go back to it to understand yourself better. The war part was very hard reading for me, but overall i did love this book. It was a suggestion from a good friend of mine and I do suggesst everyone to read it for sure- and to finish it ofcourse!
Riku Sayuj
I still have trouble imagining that a convict could write like this. The real question is posed to us by the fact of the book than the contents of the book. The contents are spectacular of course, but the fact of its existence and of the nature of the author for me is an indictment on society par compare.
Jack Mottram
Hideous purple prose, every plot twist signposted with clunking obviousness, padded out with pseudo-mystic 'philosophy', riddled with obscene poverty-licking and Orientalism. It's only use is as a barometer: view anyone who enjoyed this with suspicion.
Noce
L’anti-nouvelle cuisine

I momenti più importanti della mia infanzia li ho passati in macchina.

Quand’ero piccola, era abitudine dei miei andare spessissimo alla casa al mare. E siccome ai tempi dovevamo fare la strada cantoniera, anziché la mezz’ora di adesso, ci impiegavamo circa un’ora.

In macchina mio padre mi ha insegnato tutte le canzoni possibili e immaginabili, ce ne siamo inventate di nostre, ho riempito la testa dei miei con tutte le barzellette che sentivo a scuola, ma soprattutto all’et...more
Cathy
Jul 09, 2008 Cathy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cathy by: my sister and my friend Mona
I absolutely loved this book! I am surprised, because it's a bit different from what I usually read, and lately I haven't found many books that have been to my liking, but this one is probably one of my favorite books ever!

It's true that I was a bit annoyed at first, because Roberts uses very "flowery" language at times including lots of metaphores like: "My eyes were lost, swimming, floating free in the shimmering lagoon of her steady, even stare", "Her young face,..., looked as if it had been...more
Lanai Bayne
Oct 04, 2007 Lanai Bayne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Upon reading the below, opening paragraph of David Gregory Robert's Shantaram, I knew that the book I was holding in my hands was special. Maybe even special enough to change my life. After countless hours of laughing out loud, suspenseful moments and fighting back a few tears, I was right.

"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...more
Pennybrozda
One of the very best books I have ever read. The writing is so good I am anxious to travel to India, a place I had never wanted to go. He even makes the slums sound fascinating.
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Грегори Дэвид Робертс

Gregory David Roberts is an Australian author, most noted for his novel Shantaram. He was a heroin addict and convicted bank robber who escaped from Pentridge Prison and fled to India where he lived for ten years.

Roberts lived in Melbourne, Germany and France, and finally returned to Mumbai, where he set up charitable foundations to assist the city's poor with health care cove...more
More about Gregory David Roberts...
Shantaram Part Two Shantaram Part One The Mountain Shadow Shantaram Part Three (Shantaram #3) Crime and Refuge

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“Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears.” 495 likes
“Sometimes you break your heart in the right way, if you know what I mean.” 399 likes
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