"A publishing phenomenon" Sunday Times
It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.
Shantaram is a novel based on the life of the author, Gregory David Roberts. In 1978 Roberts was sentenced to nineteen years imprisonment as punishment for a series of robberies of building-society branches, credit unions, and shops he had committed while addicted to heroin. In July 1980 he escaped from Victoria's maximum-security prison in broad daylight, thereby becoming one of Australia's most wanted men for what turned out to be the next ten years. For most of this period he lived in Bombay. He set up a free health clinic in the slums, acted in Bollywood movies, worked for the Bombay mafia as a forger, counterfeiter, and smuggler and, as a gun-runner, resupplied a unit of mujaheddin guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan. This is the setting of Shantaram.
Apart from having this highly unusual personal background, Greg Roberts is a very gifted writer. His book is a blend of vivid dialogue, unforgettable characters, amazing adventures, and superb evocations of Indian life. It can be read as a vast, extended thriller, as well as a superbly written meditation on the nature of good and evil. It is a compelling tale of a hunted man who had lost everything - his home, his family, and his soul - and came to find his humanity while living at the wildest edge of experience.
Gregory David Roberts retired from public life in 2014 to devote time to his family and new writing projects.
The Mountain Shadow, sequel to Shantaram, is available now.
PRAISE FOR SHANTARAM
"A literary masterpiece ... at once erudite and intimate, reflective and funny ... it has the grit and pace of a thriller" Daily Telegraph
"Powerful and original ... a remarkable achievement" Sunday Telegraph
"Extraordinarily vivid ... a gigantic, jaw-dropping, grittily authentic saga" Daily Mail
"At once a high-kicking, eye-gouging adventure, a love saga and a savage yet tenderly lyrical fugitive vision." Time Out
Fans of Vikram Seth, John Irving and David Mitchell will love Shantaram.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
For a time, Gregory David Roberts—the Gentleman Bandit—was Australia’s most wanted fugitive. Shantaram is a boisterous novel based on Roberts’ stranger-than-fiction life story, charting his arrival in India with a contraband passport and his complicated love affair with that country and its people. Almost every page of this cult classic turned global bestseller contains a description or event that takes your breath away. Spanning years and continents, Roberts’ novel has the scale of a Homeric epic and the wild energy of a whirling dervish.
At the start of this massive, thrillingly undomesticated potboiler, a young Australian man bearing a false New Zealand passport that gives his name as "Lindsay" flies to Bombay some time in the early '80s. On his first day there, Lindsay meets the two people who will largely influence his fate in the city. One is a young tour guide, Prabaker, whose gifts include a large smile and an unstoppably joyful heart. Through Prabaker, Lindsay learns Marathi (a language not often spoken by gora, or foreigners), gets to know village India and settles, for a time, in a vast shantytown, operating an illicit free clinic. The second person he meets is Karla, a beautiful Swiss-American woman with sea-green eyes and a circle of expatriate friends. Lin's love for Karla and her mysterious inability to love in return gives the book its central tension. "Linbaba's" life in the slum abruptly ends when he is arrested without charge and thrown into the hell of Arthur Road Prison. Upon his release, he moves from the slum and begins laundering money and forging passports for one of the heads of the Bombay mafia, guru/sage Abdel Khader Khan. Eventually, he follows Khader as an improbable guerrilla in the war against the Russians in Afghanistan. There he learns about Karla's connection to Khader and discovers who set him up for arrest. Roberts, who wrote the first drafts of the novel in prison, has poured everything he knows into this book and it shows. It has a heartfelt, cinemascope feel. If there are occasional passages that would make the very angels of purple prose weep, there are also images, plots, characters, philosophical dialogues and mysteries that more than compensate for the novel's flaws. A sensational read, it might well reproduce its bestselling success in Australia here. . There should be plenty of media interest in the book and its author, and its sheer heft will make it stand out in bookstores.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great read. Didn't want it to end.
The best book I have ever read. A timeless classic!
Fascinating book, very well written. Shantaram makes you feel as though you're in the world of Gregory David Roberts. Highly recommended.