A novel of high adventure, great storytelling and moral purpose, based on an extraordinary true story of eight years in the Bombay underworld.
In the early 80s, Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin addict, escaped from an Australian prison to India, where he lived in a Bombay slum. There, he established a free health clinic and also joined the mafia, working as a money launderer, forger and street soldier. He found time to learn Hindi and Marathi, fall in love, and spend time being worked over in an Indian jail. Then, in case anyone thought he was slacking, he acted in Bollywood and fought with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan...
Amazingly, Roberts wrote Shantaram three times after prison guards trashed the first two versions. It's a profound tribute to his willpower...
©2003 Gregory David Roberts (P)2006 Black Stone Audio Inc
"A publishing phenomenon." (Sunday Times)
"Extraordinary vivid...a gigantic, jaw-dropping, grittily authentic saga." (Daily Mail)
"Powerful and original...a remarkable achievement." (Sunday Telegraph)
"Vivid and compassionate...impressive." (Guardian)
"At once a high-kicking, eye-gouging adventure, a love saga and a savage yet tenderly lyrical fugitive vision." (Time Out)
To a friend used to the kinds of beautifully-crafted prose that might be expected in a typical work of literary fiction, and for whom the quality of the writing itself is important I would suggest they think twice before starting this book. As other reviewers have said, it contains a good deal of pompous, purple, cliche-ridden and dubious writing and is the worse for it. However to a friend who loves an adventure novel, a travel book and a ripping yarn, I would heartily recommend. The cast of characters is cliched, many of them horribly stereotyped, thin and poorly drawn, the first-person narrator comes across as a narcissistic twit and I'm astonished these problems with the book were not better addressed at editing stage. By contrast the characters of Bombay, of Pakistan and Afghanistan, of the bars and chai shops and streets and slums are deliciously, sensuously described and are the real stars of this huge great show of a novel. What Gregory David Roberts lacks in creating believable, sympathetic characters he more than makes up for in writing a romping good story, full of exquisite descriptive detail, brilliant highs and desperate, heart rending lows. Humphrey Bower's handling of the many voices, accents and dialects in this novel, and the range of feeling he communicates is a joy to listen to. I was close to giving up on the book after the first few chapters because the writing was annoying me so much. How grateful I am to have persevered; to have stopped judging the book by its faults, and to simply enjoy it for the rollicking good ride that it is.
I hadn't come across Humphrey Bower before but will now be seeking out more of his work: the reading was first-class.
Kildonan by the sea
This is a great story, an old fashion yarn, some of it is true some is writers licence, this is not a negative, if anything it makes the tale more interesting and characters more lovable; because y suspect that unadorned and unromanticized they would be run of the mill thugs or drug addicts. the writer loves to infuse this ruffians with noble ideas and grandiose motives for their dastardly actions, it gives him and his egoism a better defense and a more romantic persona.
The Bombay underworld and Bombay in the eighties open up to be explored in the pages of this book and this never disappoints giving us many surprises and unimaginable experiences, a little of rural India seeps through and glimps of what was to become the modern Muslim movement beginning to awaken from India to Afghanistan, during the russian occupation, some of those conversations are prophetic but unaware of their place in history.
The editor was not present enough in some places, this is a large book that could have been tighten up a little with out loosing any of its charm. For me the philosophising from some of the character was not handle properly, and was way too long, but that is a minor complaint when you consider all the good in this book.
You will not be disappointed, this is a fun and interesting read that lends itself to some investigation in the net, where you will find plenty of controversy on the veracity of some of the writers claims; I found that even the deniers some how proved that a lot the tale is true or based on fact.
The reader was excellent and made the book come alive.
I'd read the book before and really enjoyed it. I saw it was available on Audible and thought that, if well done, it would be a fantastic audiobook to get completely immersed in. I wasn't disappointed. The book is not without its flaws, but it's a compelling and epic story that I find myself totally hooked by.
Hard to pick a favourite as there are so many compelling characters. I think the audio version of the book really brought out some of the more minor characters, for example Didier.
I was impressed by his ability to voice all the characters. There are so many and I thought he did a really good job giving each an individual voice.
So many - and impossible to say without giving major spoilers!
A great book, turned into a brilliant audiobook.
Brave, free, good
Having spent some time traveling in India I could relate to quite a few of the characters. Prabu is my favourite because he made me feel happy!
The book gets darker as it goes on so I really enjoyed the naive getting to know India/ Mumbai in the beginning of the book.
I am unfortunately no copywriter...
This is a great book for all that love India. Gregory David Roberts has very much grasped how India is a very orderly mess. That's how I always felt about the place.
Loved use of language especially when describing the smallest of facial expressions. The crowd scenes and activities of India come alive. Interesting historical references. This book is brought alive by the performance which is beyond words. The narration was outstanding
I had read Shantaram in 2009 whilst travelling through India and loved the story so much that I recomended this book to all my friends and family. I wanted to read the book again but decided to listen to the audio version instead. I was concerned that i might not enjoy the experience as much and probably end up dissapointed as when you see a bad film version of a book you have loved and enjoyed so much. To my delight i was hooked right from the start. What an incredible performance by the narrator Humphrey Bower! It has been an amazing experience. Thank you for putting your heart and soul in this beautifully written book.
There is no doubt that the author has led a most unusual life, and it was fascinating to gain an insight into his life, into the workings of the Bombay Mafia, and into the lives of many city-dwelling Indians. Not having ever travelled to India, I found it extremely interesting (and sometimes horrifying) learning about the conditions in which Bombay residents lived, the challenges that they faced, and mostly the way in which they retained a positive outlook in overcoming those challenges.
However, what let me down was the author's tendency to overcomplicate his writing - often (I felt) inappropriately. Simile was overused and often in ways that were jarring or cliched - his lover's eyes were deep green/emerald pools (and repeated over and over again); he handed out money to the beggars, spreading the money as thickly as the butter that a prison warder spread on his sugar bun (paraphrased); his heart had a cage that sorrow had built around it (paraphrased). If there was a simple and elegant way to describe a scene or an emotion, the author would complicate it with superfluous flowery language that fustrated me in the extreme and marred the reading of the story.
The narrator did an excellent job of telling the story, using an impressive array of voices and accents for each of the characters.
Firstly hats off to Humphrey Bower what an amazing narrator.
This book was a rollercoaster adventure of life in India more specifically Bombay and the mafia that controls it. Some of the book I feel was written and remembered in a drug infused haze, but was very philosophical. Mr Roberts descriptions were often over the top, with more adjectives than you could cook dinner with. There were parts of the story that were unbelievable, when he saved someones life with CPR, he had just described the person as blue with rigor mortis!
Never the less it was still an excellent book. I still feel there are questions to what happened next, and also what of his past life and family in Australia now?
Brilliant story of an unbelievable life, if even half the experiences written by the author are true then it would still have been an amazing life.
It was a great performance too, bringing each of the characters from all around the world with their varied accents to life.
"Best book I've ever read"
The metaphors are briliant. the narator is perfect for the role and this book came alive in not just my mind but also my heart.
Recommended for all.
"A true masterpiece"
This book surely has one of the best performances by it's narrator of any audio book, the characters were brought to life beautifully and visually, quite stunning.
The story is magnificent but like any true work of brilliance it would not be possible to do it justice with a mere description.
I honestly can't think of one, I consider myself quite well read and this book is right up there with the best of them
There are several moments which show true insight, the entire book is a pleasure to read
So many fantastic characters, Prabaka must be one of the most memorable ~ I can see his smile ;)
Don't hesitate, this is one of the truly great audio books and I've read many of them. The performance alone is worth a listen.
Loved every aspect of this book. The narrator was very consistent in his voices. The story was good, long but not boring or tedious. Just generally a good listen.
"The sights and smells of India"
A truly stunning book about India, especially Mumbai or as most locals still call the city, Bombay! It paint a great picture of day to day life, albeit the darker side. Having spent a decent amount of time in Bombay and India, I can say hand on heart that it's a brilliant read and always take me back to the glorious sights and smells of India. Well worth the listen.
Everyone should read this story. It will stay with me forever and I can't wait to read the follow-up.
"Great story from beginning to end"
I have read the book and listened twice. This is my favorite!
Great narrator! I want more of the same
"Best book I have ever read"
loved the way Gregory writes. I have physically read the book also. thank you Gregory💋
"Gripping story beautifully told yet literary weak"
Most likely not. In my opinion think Roberts literary qualities are too weak and if he didn't have such a fascination story to tell I would not have gone through the ever returning choice of words meaningless descriptions of what people are wearing and the never ending lamentation of supposedly spiritual meaning.
the description of places and people in Bombay was exceptional, fascination and authentic. The way Roberts always seemed to keep something in his sleeve which one could be sure would soon enough be revealed.
The accents of the natives especially Prabu. The differences and authenticity in the Australian, Indian and New York accents.On the other hand the German and Swiss accents and the female voices he tried to imitate had an irritating ad probably unintentional note of persiflage which made the main female character even more repugnant in the audio than if I would have read the book.
The author gave all he had in the first half of the book, after that it slipped into trivia and drab description. Especially the descriptions of the woman where weak and unbelievable.
There is no way I would have read the book past the first half. Having it told to me while working was somehow tolerable but all in all it should have been much shorter.Too much trivia about gangster honor, beautiful woman with sea green eyes long tanned legs and gory descriptions of wounds and war horrors.His female characters remained flat and lifeless stereotypes all of them dumb, naive and corrupted while there was great enthusiastic investment in (so called) brotherly love, honor, gangster and weapon romantic and all that homoerotic denial repertoire.
"What a book, what a performance!"
What a great book! I've never read a book so interesting. The story is extremely exciting and you really learn to love the characters. I love it!
If you pass this book by, you'll really miss out.
"Amazing Book ! Amazing Listening Experience !"
This is my first book and what a great way to start my listening experience. Humphrey Bower makes the listening experience awesome, I just loved his voice and narration.
Lin Baba in particular but all of them.
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