Mairead's Reviews > Shantaram

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
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Feb 19, 08

bookshelves: the-heart
Read in February, 2008

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 in and of itself, his writing is what spurred me through the frantic pace of this last read. After I read a book it usually contains tiny scraps of paper or kleenex, marking my favorite phenomenal quotes. Usually, I'm lucky to get two or three.

I've got a bakers dozen of scrap paper shreds marking my territory. And my favorite is below:

"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." (pg. 872)

Our narrator is flawed and human. The book jacket advertises his past as a armed robber and prisoner in high-security facility, from which he escaped and travelled to Bombay. His work as a gunrunner, drug dealer, improvised doctor, and more float him throughout the chapters as he meanders in and out of the others lives. These people -- a charismatic cab driver, a carved up man in love, a gang leader with all the answers, a young child obsessed with prayers -- are what drive our protagonist, taking us with him through dawning awareness of self, of others, and of our importance to this world.

Sometimes you read a book to let yourself flow out onto its pages, to work through the black ink and white pulp as a character yourself. This book lets you do that, offering you havens of risk in which you can turn your palm over and consider, am I a good person? What have I done with the inevitable failures and sorrows that life has brought my way?

I hope that you too finish this book with tears of happiness and understanding clinging to your cheeks, pure and clean.
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Comments (showing 1-4)




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Kristen If you enjoyed reading this book, you should try reading The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. It's an excellent story about two different castes of women and their struggles. If you've never been to India, both writers give great insights to the life and breath of the people who live and die there.

~Kristen


Robin Cabot I will deffinitely check out The Space Between us. Glad I read Kristen's comment.

And I appreciated your review on Shantaram.

Robin


message 2: by Maria (new)

Maria Szabo Maireads review expresses so well a lot of what I felt about this except I would rate it a 5. A well expressed sensitive review


message 1: by Vicky (new) - added it

Vicky Thwaites I loved this book. Although not entirely a true story it was well written, interesting and certain characters made you feel something. The final few paragraphs with Prabaker made me cry so much i couldn't read any more for a day or two. I get what people have said about it being long winded and maybe pretentious but i loved every page of it!


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