Anne Earley
Anne Earley asked:

I am nearly at page 100 and I am really not enjoying this book! This is disconcerting as everyone else raves about it! Is it me or is the book? Should I persevere?

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Bo A painful waste of time. It is unbelievable to me that it has favorable reviews. Narcissistic, sophomoric, and tedious.
Yichen Wang For those of you who aren't enjoying, could you provide more detail on why?

I'm about 20% through the book so far and I've enjoyed it from page 1. Here's MY reasons why I like it:

- I relate to the environment: I've never stepped foot in India, however my ancestral background is China, and I've visited China on multiple occasions. I have seen myself what villages, crowded cities, and a rapidly developing economy in a heavily populated Asian country look at, and so I can easily put myself in Lin's shoes and understand his descriptions and thoughts from the POV of a westerner (I am an American)

- Characters: I see some comments about how the characters are shallow. But let's be honest, in our day to day lives, none of us really understand the in-depth personalities of most of the people we meet. In the book, Lin meets a lot of people, and while he really speaks to the character of some he's closer to, others get a couple of sentences of a snapshot description. That's usually how things work in real life. What I get out of all this is experiencing how characters interact, live, and think within a completely culture from ours. And from the hundreds of mini-interactions, we learn a lot about the social and cultural dynamics of India - there is nothing more genuine and human than that because that's how an open-minded individually absorbs information and learn about new things in foreign land. Keep in mind that this book is about the POV of an individual, and tells things how one person saw things.

- POV excellence: To continue from my 2nd point about characters, the book does a great job of providing a HUMAN experience. You see a new world through the thoughts, fears, and emotions of a flawed, but open-minded Westerner. You experience the stories through the lens of inherent human bias, which is why the learnings are so powerful. When Lin comes to a new revelation or when his eyes open up to a new understanding, you really UNDERSTAND, because you traveled along the same emotional pitfalls, sorrows, and thought processes of a normal human being
Gloria The entire book is down hill.
Smita I finished this book in 10 days flat! The initial few pages seemed to drag but once i crossed that it was almost unputdownable for me. I loved the book & all the characters. I guess i was fascinated by the trials of this foreigner, branded a criminal in his country who lands up in India, starts living & working in the slums and all of the experiences that follow. Maybe people outside of India wouldn't be able to relate to the characters & the setting. But it is based on a true story albeit fictionalized. There was some talk of it being turned into a movie but nothing materialised. It would be great to see this book being turned into a motion picture.
Kat Walter If you are not enjoying it STOP. I liked it better as it continued, but then it got tedious again. It is written as a novel, but I think it is biographical. A narcissistic read
Nancy Colello I think the discrepancy in likability has something to do with what generation you are from. I am in my 50's and did not find the characters individuals I would like to spend time with. I think this book seems to be meant for a male, 20-something year old. I hate to stereotype, and perhaps I will get a lot of heat for doing so here, but the whole time I read it, I couldn't help but think that. In the end, I did find the story ok and he had some good insights to share.
Rosemary Winks I loved, loved, loved this book and even read it twice. If I was stuck on an island and had to choose one book to take with me, this would be it. It baffles me to no end that others do not like it. I will defend this book to my last breath.
Mayank Tiwaari Shantaram will go with its own speed. For me, it took a huge time and when I consumed almost 90% of it, I didn't want it to end. Don't stop reading, you will love it.
Julia Kaylock I finished it recently and never got to the enjoyment stage. There are some lyrical passages but I found his 'meaning of life' stuff ho-hum and I never warmed to any of the characters, they all seemed so flat. Some had the potential to be endearing, like Probaker, but Roberts never got inside their skin well enough for us to really seem them shine. I don't feel any of the characters gained much insight - that is probably reality, but without internal growth you don't have much of a story.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) Unless you absolutely have to read a book for a given purpose (such as a class or your job), the nice thing is that you can put it down, take it back to the library or the person who lent it to you, sell it on or give/throw it away.
Life's too short, and there are too many books you might enjoy, to waste time on books you know you don't like.
Kathleen I'd say "no." Life is too short to read books you don't like. I will say that once I started listening to the book as well as reading it, I began really enjoying it. I picked up my pace and now can't put it down. The narrator is over-earnest in places, but the experiences are life-altering.
Find a book you love and dig into it!
Valerie Brown I found the book just too long and tedious, I gave up about half way though.
Helen Jenny I want to tear down people who tear down this book. I feel their sight is short and pathetic. Is it what everyone wants? No. Is it a fantastic and eye-opening read? Hell yes. I advise you to enjoy, lose yourself and your pretensions. Sure he may get preachy at times, but that doesn't detract from the work as a whole and isn't the driving force.
Titus Quinctius Flamininus I give it an hour every few days. Its torture at points but have enough brilliance that I'm sticking it out.
Jackie I am thinking of you don't like it now, you probably are not going to like it any better as you read on. I didn't like it that much, but I can see why some people did. I listened to the audio version. The narrator did a great job. I don't think I would have finished the book, if I just read the text.
Shobhit Mehta I request you to be patient and persevere. The book initially drags a little as it is plotting the characters and drama. I bet you won't regret sticking till page 962 ;)
A I feel the same - I've made it nearly halfway through but it's been difficult. I want to put it down after a few pages every time I pick it up, the writing never pulls me in, the descriptions are excessive, and the characters seem to exist solely for the purpose of presenting their life philosophies to Lin.

I've tried to understand this issue as well; I think the book is just divisive, a love it or hate it novel.
Sarah Have you tried the audiobook? I probably wouldn't have made it through this one, but the audiobook performance added so much to the story IMO.
Debu Majumdar This is an excellent literary book I have read in a long time. It is difficult to read at the beginning because of the many characters. I used to get lost as to who this character is, etc. I'd suggest that please start from the beginning again and you will connect with the characters. Then you will enjoy the book. I have finished the book, but I have started to read it again and enjoying it more.
Melanie Blaauw Dear Anne,
Seeing as it's about 4 years later, and I feel exactly the same way, I wanted to know if you ever did finish the book, or did you leave it? A friend gave it to me, and was so impressed with the book, that I keep thinking there must be something wrong with me, that I do not like it. Every page is a struggle to get through, and it's not like I'm a slow reader. But I can't believe I'm only at page 136?? Finding myself skip entire paragraphs. My OCD just wont allow me to stop, hehe.
Shantaram. ​This is a​ real​ Bollywood f​ilm​ of a book​. Written as if shot​ in ​900​-​page wide​-screen, ​​it is opulently orchestrated​,​ a whopper of a story, besotted with love and rhythm and violence​,​ brimming ​with colour, humour, drugs and spice, ​also teeming with ​the ​warmest​​,​ strange​st,​ magical​y​ fated human encounter​s.​
T​he tale ​is ​quite literally a "​movie​"​, its ​narrator (and ​author​) being​ an ex-convict who fled Australia​ via new Zealand​ to work for the Indian Mafia ​anywhere between Kinshasa and Kandahar, ​but based in and ​thoroughly enchanted by the Metropolis of ​Bomba​y. Here the story is ​squarely placed on ​the city's shady or squalid side​.​
​Though packed with action​, ​this is ​also ​a look behind the mirror​. ​The author is something of a stream​-​of​-​consciousness​ poet​, a loquacious enthusiast​ with ​a ​penchant for hippy philosophy​, also romanticising what should be an outrage. Even so, after ​ever ​so much​ flower power​ he never fails to turn a phrase so deftly​,​ ​that any self-respecting singer-songwriter ​would ​want​​ to steal​ just that.
To give thanks ​to this author I ​now ​​need to learn the Indian​-​style​ head-wiggle​.​ I should also thank the Australian and Indian penitentiary systems for not quite killing him off.
Anca Atrocious. Badly written. I wanted it to work for me, but it sadly didn't. If a book doesn't captivate you, persevere. If you feel the same after 300+ pages, you are wasting you time. I was wasting mine.
Zak Plummer It's definitely you.
Linda Parker Try the audio book. It's great on audio, and you can read it while preparing dinner, while walking, while doing laundry, or picking up the kids from school. That's why I love audio books--you can time-share. I love the accents of the Indian characters as well as the accent of the Australian protagonist. Not difficult to get into at all on audio. Some readers object to it because the protagonist is opinionated and not necessarily "the perfect citizen." For me, it was an opportunity to walk in someone else's shoes, someone who is unlike me or my friends. That's a great value of novels, they put us in places we've never been and with characters we have never met in real life.
Deepankar Das Just keep on reading, I am sure it will not disappoint you. There must be some reason why this book is a mass favourite.
Kipbot I enjoyed it immensely, even though I found the author tedious. Some wonderful scenes of life in Mumbai and the countryside. But if you're not feeling it at the beginning, I doubt you'll feel it farther in (when it loses some of its strength and the self-referential stuff becomes hard to overlook.)
Naoise I left this book at about that distance… and I was actually travelling through India! Can't remember the particulars of my decision but I am not the one to leave books half way.
Cecile Pham I couldn't read it either. I got about 3 chapters in and couldn't stomach the western savior drivel and the romanticizing of Indian culture derivative of those who don't fully understand the system it exists in. Yes there's beauty as well as atrocities there but depicted through this narcissistic, sheltered eyes was not a journey I wanted to take. UGH so annoying.
Jeffrey Lieberman suggest u persevere, it takes a while to get into the rhythm and flow, hard to absorb the plot and story line at first, but worth the effort
Pam Walter Good Luck. I am 100 pages into it, and see this author waxing philosophical in the vein of Dostoevsky's "The Idiot", which I did not enjoy at all. I am going to continue for a while. I don't usually quit a book unless it just totally bores me. This is not my review of "The Idiot", but I wish it was!!
Chaitanya It's fairly good until a point and after that it gets a little painful. You'll be relieved that you finished the book
Shannon King A friend just recommended it to me, but I think I'll wait until I get a new Kindle PaperLight or the new, upgraded Kindle e-reader, because it can chart where each character appears and also search words, so I don't get bogged down flipping back to try to remember who a character is, since reviewers say it has so many.
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