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!