Jessie's Reviews > Shantaram

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
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Sep 30, 08

Recommended to Jessie by: dear sweet amber rain
Recommended for: evereyone in the entire world

Once I started reading this book, I didn’t want to do anything else. I want everyone to read this book. It’s definitely the most exciting, thrilling book I’ve ever read. It’s an autobiography (supposedly) disguised as a novel about Roberts’ life in India after escaping from a maximum security prison in Australia. Roberts’ adventures in India are so fantastic that it makes you wonder if it could really be true, and I mean that in a good way. The book is over 900 pages and there’s never a lull. There are hundreds of short stories within the larger adventure/mystery: some are terribly heartbreaking, some are so funny I laughed out loud, some are chillingly violent, some are heart-warmingly hopeful, and many are combinations of the four. The characters are so real. There are so many (maybe 100?) but they’re so richly drawn that I never lost track of who was who. Roberts refers to his own character as a “tough guy,” which he undoubtedly is, but he has a very tender heart. This combination is what makes the story so fascinating. It also explains how Roberts could both work for the Bombay mafia and run a free medical clinic in the slum. In many ways, the book is like one of the Bollywood movies that the characters love so much: it’s larger-than-life, it’s emotional, it loves India (Bombay in particular), and there’s lots of singing and dancing. It also goes a little over-the-top with the poetic prose every once in a while, but it’s really easy to skim through those parts. This book must be read and passed on. And for anyone who’s read it: the phrase “a man must love his bear” will always crack me up.

I was ecstatic to hear that Mira Nair was directing a film version with both Johnny Depp and Amitabh Bachchab slated to star. Unfortunately, I heard that production's been held up.
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Jane I agree!


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