I have had this book on my shelf for nearly five years and was always put off reading it due its size and weight (hardly the easiest thing to lug around on the daily commute).
Finally I made the effort to read it, and for me, it was a book of two halves (first half I loved, and the other half I found disappointing).
Overall, this is a great adventure-packed story. It's easy to read and a good book to immerse yourself in on holiday. But don't expect a literary masterpiece (as the cover claims), as it certainly is not.
I found the first half especially gripping, in fact I could hardly put the book down. From page 600 onwards, however, I found myself becoming really quite bored and frustrated with the poor quality of writing and by how much the story was being dragged out. As I progressed through the book, the poor writing and fluffy nonsense-philosophy resulted in many an eye rolling moment, or I'd find myself cringing at the pure cheesiness of it. Had it been 300 pages shorter, I don't think this would have been the case.
The disappointment for me came from the fact that Shantaram really got me hooked to begin with, but the last 200 pages I was genuinely willing it to end!
Still, I'm glad I've finally read it, and would recommend it to others provided they're not expecting prize winning literature (as some of the reviews on the inside cover make out)!
Also, note to the publisher - consider publishing Kindle version, would make it a lot more portable!