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Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts

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Author: Gregory David Roberts / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 24 March 2005 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group / Title: Shantaram / ISBN 13: 9780349117546 / ISBN 10: 0349117546

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      23.06.2011 04:22
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      An interesting view of Mumbai

      One of the main reasons why I liked this book is due to the sense of truth and straightforwardness. The story is impressive and I was quite interested in how the Mumbai black market works as well as how the Australian ended up becoming a Mumbaikar and going to fight in an Afghanistan war. Also, how he escaped from prison was quite interesting but the details of his time in the Mumbai prison were very sordid. I also loved the way he explained the ethos of the slum people and the village.

      Indian people may argue that he has exposed a lot of flaws in Indian life and that it is far from the calm and stable lives that most people say they have. But that is why this book is so interesting. It breaks away from the stereotypes that are popularised in Bollywood movies and tries to illustrate the well kept secrets of Mumbai.

      Shantaram is not for the person who would like to read about a land of milk and honey. It is an eye opener for people who do not know the underhand workings of Mumbai.

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        11.06.2011 21:41

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        A must read for all, it will take you on a journey of a lifetime

        After reading this book I cannot stop telling everyone about it. It's a semi-autobiography of Gregory David Roberts, an ex-heroin addict, who escapes from an Australian prison and finds himself in India. His journey is simply amazing, the writing style is fantastic! It is a gripping story and reading the descriptions of each moment whether it be happiness or pain, as a reader you get drawn into and made to feel the emotions, the details of the descriptions of each memory are so vivid, I was moved to tears many many times. The writing is so unique, there are plenty of theatrical moments and there are some beautiful quotes that will relate to each and every person that reads them, this book will inspire you to reflect on life. The individuals Roberts meets on the journey provide new perspectives, the character of prabu in particular is so admirable. I cannot wait for the movie to be made, as I know many people are just not 'book' people but they need to hear Roberts' story.
        Shantaram has to be one of the best books I have ever read and I urge everyone to read it.

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        16.03.2011 20:29

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        A must read if you love reading

        When I pick up a book which could double for a door stop, a sense of trepidation normally runs through my body. Is it going to be worth the hype? Will it fit in my bag? Why does any book need to be that big? I went through all these questions when I contemplated the purchase of Shantaram and thankfully for me I followed the hype. The book is definitely worth the hype. It takes you on a journey through the life of escaped convict 'Lin' as he makes his new life in the sprawling city of Bombay. Lin's adventures in India, which are based on the author's real life, take him from running a free clinic in a Bombay slum to his work for the Bombay Mafia as a forger and money launderer. Throughout this time he learnt Hindu and Marathi, got worked over in jail, fought with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan and he even found time to get hooked on heroin for the second time in his life and kick the habit. Most of all this book is about relationships and love. Not only does Lin fall in love with the city so beautifully described by Roberts, his relationships with the 'father figure' Khaderbhai, the wide smiling Prabaker and the beautiful Karla give this novel its backbone and its true heart. Shantaram kept me on the edge of my seat from start to end, it had drama, it had feelings and it also had some rather interesting philosophical musings from the complex Khaderbhai. My final piece of advice to those still sceptical is to buy a bigger a bag because this is a book which you must read

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        19.07.2010 21:38
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        Amazing journey

        I was lucky enough to be sitting in India on a beach in Goa when a little boy came up to me selling books, after having a look through all the books and being unable to find a suitable one an Australian chap I had been sunbathing with advised me that this was a great book.
        I decided to buy the book and boy was he right, I have to say this is possibly the best book I have ever read and the fact that its a true story is even better.

        Reading the book in India were the story was set made the journey of the read ever so much more appealing.

        Shantaram is a novel influenced by real events in the life of the author, Australian Gregory David Roberts. In 1978, Roberts was sentenced to nineteen years' imprisonment in Australia after being convicted of a series of armed robberies which he had committed to feed a heroin addiction after his marriage ended and he lost his daughter. In July 1980, he escaped from Victoria's Pentridge Prison in broad daylight, thereby becoming one of Australia's most wanted men for the next ten years.
        He arrives in Mumbai carrying a false passport. Mumbai was only a stopover on a journey that was to take Lin from New Zealand to Germany, but he decides to stay in the city and this is a stop over that was to redirect his life forever

        The novel describes a number of foreigners of varied origin as well as local Indians, highlighting the rich diversity of life in Bombay. Mr Roberts becomes friends with many Indians and manages to make himself well known to the Indian Mafia and working for them.

        Mr Roberts is eventually tracked down after many years and has to return to prison but this book describes the wonderful journey in between and is quite truly breathtaking.

        The book is almost 1000 pages long but once you pick it up you will struggle to put it down.

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        31.03.2010 10:23

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        One of the most moving things I have ever read, well worth the read

        'Shantaram' by Gregory David Roberts is a fictional book based on the experiences an armed robber and Heroin addict escaped from an Australian prison. After his incredible escape he fled to India, a country he instantly fell in love with, embraced the culture and learned Hindi and Marathi while living in a remote Indian village.

        When he returned to Mumbai he began living in a slum and established a free health clinic before eventually getting involved in organised crime and then goes on to Afghanistan where he fought with the Mujahadeen. This book is part fiction but the majority of it is based on Gregory David Roberts real experiences which makes it all the more fascinating.

        I haven't tried to tackle a book this large in quite a while but after taking it with me on a rather long train journey I read 250 pages before having to tear myself away from it and return back to reality! I enjoyed it so much I read it in two weeks and since then I've recommended it to everyone. This is a brilliant book, it really takes you on a journey. I found out that this is the first book of four that Gregory David Roberts plans to write, the next part of his amazing life story (The Mountain Shadow) comes out later this year.

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        01.12.2009 19:02
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        A fantastic read; an inspirational book at times.

        A month after leaving India myself I took a moment to flick through the first few pages of a book so many people on my travels had spoken about. I ended up in the book shop for half an hour reading as much as I could. The accuracy in the description of Mumbai was so eloquently written it drew me in instantly. It resonated in my mind and brought me straight back to the time I spent there.
        The story itself is a compelling one and 900 pages does not seem such a laborious job or an endless story. In brief the central character, Lin, is an escaped convict from an Australian prison, who manages to find his way to Mumbai. He meets a charming, frank Indian man, who starts to introduce Lin to the many highs and lows of Indian culture. The contrast in the stark reality of Mumbai and the whole hearted, naïve nature of Prabaker makes it easy to indulge this story from the beginning. The trials and tribulations of Lin's life; from living in the slums as a stand in doctor, to fighting a war in Afghanistan for a Mumbai crime lord keep the story flowing.
        The Indian characters are endearing and convey how happiness can be found in the most desperate situations. The complexities of Indian culture are laid bare in the book, leading to an accurate and inspiring depiction. The lead character Lin has been met with mixed reactions among reviewers of this book. It is true at times that he does portray a man of honour and courage when a large chunk of his life is an involvement in crime. However, he is far from one dimensional; he is seeking redemption of which he knows will not come and his view on himself and others around him are transient throughout the story, so to take one view on him would be narrow minded.
        If you are planning on going to India it is a book that you should defiantly purchase. If you are not fazed by long books that are at times heavy and have descriptive, philosophical prose then I would say that this is a quite brilliant read.

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        26.10.2009 21:43

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        Superb!

        This is a must read for anyone, no matter what sort of novels you are into it has everything in it. The story is a semi-autobio of Gregory David Roberts, who is an ex-heroin addict, with this in mind it's impossible to not love his character, someone who is wise, loyal, selfless and just an all round nice guy with a dark past, and just trying to make a name for himself. However it is not the characters in the book that you will fall in love with (Lin, Prabu) but also the book's setting, India. Yes there is financial hardship in some of the slums, but the book demonstrates that each person out there always cares those around them. I wasn't really bothered about india before I read this book, but now it is one of my top 5 destinations that I want to visit. A book that I can read over and over again, and I can't wait for the film to come out, which is starring Johnny Depp. :-)

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        18.10.2009 13:15
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        A must-read book

        Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts

        Gregory David Roberts was sentenced to 19 years in an Australian jail having been convicted of a series of armed robberies, carried out to feed his heroin addiction at the time. He escaped from prison, and travelled to India, becoming one of Australia's most wanted men. The book then follows him though his experiences (including setting up a health clinic In the slums of India, working as a forger and counterfeiter and a gun runner) and introduces us to a weird and wonderful array of people along the way.

        It is an unusual story, in that it is fiction, though quite heavily influenced by real life events, which lend a believability to the book. It is also one of those rare pieces of work which make the characters come alive for the reader and the experiences seem almost their own.

        Reading this book, I almost felt that I could smell the scents described, see the colours and hear the characters as they spoke. The book managed to strike almost every emotion, at some points I laughed out loud, in others I felt the poignancy and hurt as if the story affected me personally. The characters become like old friends and you cannot help but feel connected to their lives.

        This book is 944 pages long and I can honestly say that I wished it were twice the size. I found it hard to put down and read it very quickly, then wished I hadn't because I wanted it to last as long as possible!

        If you are looking for something exciting and poignant to read then look no further, Shantaram is sure to delight. There is talk of it being made into a film which would definitely be one to watch.

        I think that this is the best book I have read all year, and cannot recommend it highly enough, it genuinely is a fantastic read!

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          27.05.2009 13:40
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          a must read for anyone interested in India

          Quite simply my favourite book! It is a big book, but within the first couple of chapters you will be hooked. Basically, the character, based on the author, escapes from an Australian prison and escapes to Bombay. From then on the events that take place are non-stop as Lin soon integrates into the chaotic Bombay life and makes lots of friends. He soon becomes a very popular guy around the City and the people that he meets leads him towards some interesting opportunites.

          One of my favourite parts of the book is when he is living in the slums. I've often wondered what it would be like to live in those kind of conditions and this section of the book gives a real insight. The book is a mix of fiction and non-fiction, so you can't be 100% that the images that he depicts are correct but I'm sure it has a lot of similarities.

          His contacts lead him to Bollywood, prison, the mafia and Afghanistan plus much more.

          I recommend this book to as many people as possible and I cannot wait for the film to come out (2009 apparently).

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            16.09.2008 23:36
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            a thrilling read, rollercoaster of emotions

            The groundbreaking novel 'Shantaram' spans the world between fact and fiction seamlessly. Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and Heroin addict escaped from an Australian prison. After adopting the name Lin he eventually fled to India, a country he fell in love with. Embracing the wonderful culture Robert's learned Hindi and Marathi, the majority of the latter was learned in a remote village. He returned to Mumbai and began living in a slum, establishing a free health clinic for the slum dwellers. The epic novel follows his entrancing life in India, detailing his involvement with the mafia as a money launderer, forger and street soldier before being thrown in an Indian prison. The novel follows him to Afghanistan where he fought with the Mujahadeen.

            This gripping novel, which is substantial to hold, is a breeze to read. You won't want to put it down. The writing style is clever and descriptive enough t immerse you in a story where you quickly move from adventure to adventure, top of the world to heartache. This novel which Robert's wrote 3 times due to it being repeatedly destroyed in prison is worth the wait. Not only is it an education about India and its culture, it shows the unseen Bombay underworld and takes you on a roller coaster ride of literary brilliance.

            Phenomenal.

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