Friday, July 29, 2011

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts - a masterpiece that everyone should read!

 My Rate: ☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠ (10/10 Skulls)

Original Title: Shantaram
Norwegian Title: Shantaram
Written by: Gregory David Roberts
Genre: a novel, biography, fiction
Written for: Adult
Pages: 910
Publisher: Scribe

Published: 2003
Published in Norway: 2008
My copy: 2010 (Hardcover)
Norwegian Publisher:
I read it: June 27 - July 26, 2011
Source: Bought


 "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."

So begins this epic, mesmerizing first novel set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear.

Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay's hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere.

As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums, and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The search leads him to war, prison torture, murder, and a series of enigmatic and bloody betrayals. The keys to unlock the mysteries and intrigues that bind Lin are held by two people. The first is Khader Khan: mafia godfather, criminal-philosopher-saint, and mentor to Lin in the underworld of the Golden City. The second is Karla: elusive, dangerous, and beautiful, whose passions are driven by secrets that torment her and yet give her a terrible power.

Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas---this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and a passionate love for India at its heart. Based on the life of the author, it is by any measure the debut of an extraordinary voice in literature.

About the ups and downs in life.

The ex-prisoner Gregory David Roberts went in living hell after the marriage fell apart and he lost the custody of his daughter. Since then his life went downhill and he started taking drugs and robbing banks. One day he gets caught. His future is to be behind bars for 20 years but only two years he manages to escape from one of Australia's top guarded prisons. He even escapes in the middle of the day! He ends up in Bombay and he lives with fear to be revealed and taken by the police. On the run, he has to move forward by not contacting his family or friend. He can't do that to risk to get caught and sent behind bars again. 

In Bombay the main character and the escapist Lin, meets many new and exciting persons and he learns about his new culture. He ends up living in the slum with his new, good friends, opens a doctor clinic for the people who shares the slum with him and he gets well known all over the city also for the mafia. The mafia gets interested in him and they make a special connection as well. Will Lin ever feel at home in Bombay and be accepted or will he forever be seen as a foreigner?

I got Shantaram as a birthday gift back in January but I thought I should wait to read it until the summer vacation when I had more time to read and by the thought that the book is very thick. My copy has 910 pages and that's a lot! I haven't read a real thick book since last summer when I was reading IT by Stephen King. And that book were a bit over 1000 pages (!). (How can people write so much?) But thick books doesn't scare me. And I've been wanting to read this book in a long time 'cause I've only heard great things about it and I got curious about what "everyone" is talking about 'cause I feel like I'm the last person in the world to read this book while (everybody else) has done it years ago. But better late then never!

I must admit that I was struggling to get through the first 200 pages. It was many names (some hard ones) to keep track of and stuff, but after getting through that it was a lot easier to get into the reading and things was beginning to happen. We get to know how the main character deals with living in the slum and how he deals with being in the part of the mafia.

As far as I know the movie adaption has already started and Johnny Depp is the main character. Don't hate me but I'm totally disagree about that. I know he is a good actor (even though he's not any of my favorites). But while I was reading the book I just couldn't picture Johnny Depp as Gregory David Roberts. It's just wrong (at least for me). They seem like two different persons. I don't know who I would chose to be the main character but it wouldn't be Johnny Depp. That's for sure. I'm also a bit tired of seeing Johnny Depp in almost every modern movies. I would like to see some new faces as long as they are not from Disney (you know what I mean?).

Shantaram is a warm, good and honest book about ups and downs in life. About a man who moves on with his life no matter what happens and at the same time is trying to leave the past behind. His friendship and conversations with Prabaker is priceless and unforgettable! And the main character's love for Karla is very touching. And they way he handle meeting new culture than he is used to - is impressive! This is a book with a lot of discussion about life philosophy, about belonging somewhere and make the right choices. Shantaram is a book that should be read to understand how amazing it is! And the expression bear hug will never be the same again. Read the book and you'll understand what I mean! Everyone should read this. It's an incredible fascinating, rough and charming book! A book for both women and men!

I'm very excited to see how the movie is gonna be even though I don't agree with the choice of the main character (again, please don't hate me).

And I would really, really like an audio book with Gregor David Roberts as the narrator, I've seen some YouTube-videos by Roberts and I love his voice! It would be great to listen to him reading the entire book. And if you'd like to know more about the author's life when he was on the run I recommend you to see these clips. An interview by CNN. In these videos Roberts talks about the book and shows us the places he spent a lot of time in when he was living in Bombay. It's very interesting to watch it and it's worth it! Roberts is a though guy!

I didn't mean to spend almost a month reading this book but this is a book that needs time to sink in and it's not a book just to rush through. It's a book that makes you do a lot of thinking. Just want to make you sure of that.

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