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Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts – Book Review

posted by Russ, August 6 in reading with tags , , ,

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As promised last week, here is my review for one of my favorite books of all time, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.

The book is very long, over 900 pages (!), but because it is so action packed it can be a quick read if you have the time to let yourself get involved. In brief, the book is about a man who escapes prison in New Zealand and ends up in Bombay working as a slum doctor. Thus the book is about the life he build in Bombay, and follows him over several years, first as a slum doctor, then moving on to mafia man and then mujahadeen fighter. The twists and turns of the plot make you want to keep reading, never knowing what will happen next. What makes this even more interesting is that, while fictional, much of what happens is based on experiences from Roberts’ life. In real life Roberts had been a former heroin addict who managed to escape from prison in Australia and ended up in India. There is debate as to which events in the book are true and which are not, however Roberts claims that most of it is fiction. Never the less, there is at least some that is based on true events, and the book is sure to hold you attention.

In real life Roberts is ultimately recaptured to serve out the remainder of his prison sentence, and it is during this time that he wrote much of the novel, which makes the story even more amazing. There are many parts of the story that seem like they could be exaggerated, scenes that you wonder if could ever have really taken place, but the reality is it doesn’t matter since this book is a novel, and a great one at that. He manages to write in such a way that as the reader you feel like you are experiencing the heart and soul of Bombay, and being taken to places that you will likely never venture on your own.

Shantaram is a real piece of work, and I would highly recommend it to most anyone, especially if you have an interest in adventure, travel and/or India. That said, there are parts that contain extremely violent events, so keep that in mind before picking it up. But if you choose to read it, you will not be disappointed.

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Originally posted on Thursday, August 6th, 2009 at 6:04 AM .

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