Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Book Recommendation: Shantaram

Though officially labelled a work of fiction, Sharntaram is a 933-page book based on a particular period of time in the life of its author, Gregory David Roberts.  Shantaram is about a man who escaped a maximum-security Australian prison and found his way to the city formerly known as Bombay.  His arrival in India, as a fugitive needing to disappear into the masses, is the beginning point of the book.  Eventually, through a series of events that see him living in the slums, Lin, the narrator and protagonist, works his way into the heart of the Bombay mafia and finds brotherhood and family in places he least expects it.

Though there are parts of the book that are violent and sometimes difficult to read, Roberts is clearly a gifted writer.  His vivid and detailed descriptions of Bombay and life in Bombay (especially in the slums) utterly captivated me - I felt like I was right there with Lin, the main character.  It was clear that the author both loved and understood this complex city.  I thought, too, that Roberts' development of the character of Lin was excellent; I can't go into more detail without revealing too much.  I also loved how each chapter seemed to wind its way to a philosophical conclusion about the events that preceded it; this is a guy who has spent a lot of time thinking about life!

It took the author thirteen years to write Shantaram, and much of it was written from his prison cell, after he was eventually re-captured (not part of this book) and required to serve the remainder of his sentence.  If you can stomach a bit of carnage now and again, this is a book worth reading.  I hope Roberts picks up the rest of his novel life in a future book.

Thank you to my nephew, Jonathan, for encouraging me to read this book...though I have to say that if I was either of his parents, I'd perhaps be a bit concerned about his having read it!

1 comment:

  1. HI Ruth,
    An off topic post.
    I have not read this book and am not ready to tackle a long book at the moment , but I will save the title just in case my attention span returns.

    I see you have a list number and was wondering how you are feeling ? Is it about what you had thought.

    I personally started to fall apart as the numbers starting to come in, I am guessing I am somewhere near the 100's but secretly am hoping for under 60.

    So trilled we are still moving , but I sure was a wreck yesterday afternoon, and already find myself watching the clock and wondering are the computers fixed , have they started work ?

    Have a good day

    ps Noami has arrived and she is one scary head, I opened her up and dropped her back in her box.
    I was not really scared of the hair till I met "her"

    I have to find out if you have to use a product , I think you can wash the hair ?

    Not sure where one goes to find out about how to care for your Noami !

    I am also in a really busy time at work, It is the the time of year I have to get certified for my job, and I am soooooooo behind in paper work, I promised myself not to get to the "head" till my work is cleared.

    All the more reason not to on the internet every 4 minutes but I cant help myslef.