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Shantaram [Paperback]

Gregory David Roberts
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (664 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov 2005

A novel of high adventure, great storytelling and moral purpose, based on an extraordinary true story of eight years in the Bombay underworld.

'In the early 80s, Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin addict, escaped from an Australian prison to India, where he lived in a Bombay slum. There, he established a free health clinic and also joined the mafia, working as a money launderer, forger and street soldier. He found time to learn Hindi and Marathi, fall in love, and spend time being worked over in an Indian jail. Then, in case anyone thought he was slacking, he acted in Bollywood and fought with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan . . . Amazingly, Roberts wrote Shantaram three times after prison guards trashed the first two versions. It's a profound tribute to his willpower . . . At once a high-kicking, eye-gouging adventure, a love saga and a savage yet tenderly lyrical fugitive vision.' Time Out

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 936 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (Nov 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312330537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312330538
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (664 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 614,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gregory David Roberts was born in Melbourne in 1952. After surviving the events dealt with in Shantaram, he was captured in Germany in 1990 and eventually extradited to Australia. On completing his prison sentence, he established a small multi-media company and is now a full-time writer. He lives in Melbourne.

Product Description


A literary masterpiece ... at once erudite and intimate, reflective and funny ... it has the grit and pace of a thriller (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Powerful and original ... a remarkable achievement (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Extraordinarily vivid ... a gigantic, jaw-dropping, grittily authentic saga (DAILY MAIL)

A publishing phenomenon (SUNDAY TIMES) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The book that has obsessed a generation: Shantaram is a publishing sensation based on the author's dramatic and extraordinary true story of life on the run in the Bombay underworld, is being reissued with a new cover alongside other classic titles from the Abacus list in our 40th Anniversary year

* 'A literary masterpiece ... it has the grit and pace of a thriller' DAILY TELEGRAPH

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Immersive and evocative read 11 April 2005
By dhbooks
Based on a true story, the tale of a wanted Australian ex-convict who moves to Bombay; sets up a medical clinic in the slums; joins the Indian mafia and even goes to war in Afghanistan is gripping stuff. Those looking for a thriller or fast-paced ride will be disappointed - whilst Roberts includes plenty of action, he also vividly describes not only his surroundings but also his personal interactions with the residents and foreign nationals in Bombay. It is in this way that Shantaram excels, as a tale of how Roberts fits into the hugely varied Bombay lifestyle. In one way, Shantaram is almost a love story, with many of Roberts' actions revolving around a woman he loves - however, his propensity for getting into various dangerous situations meant that I couldn't put the book down. Whilst it is quite long, almost 1,000 pages of small type, it will keep you entertained and fascinated throughout, with Roberts' descriptions of India totally immersing you in his experiences.
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201 of 220 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Confused? 3 April 2007
Hmmm...I've read with interest the reviews of this book and I think that you'll agree they are somewhat polarised!

My reading tastes are quite varied, from the Classics to Alex Garland and although I will try to be as objective as possible, the fact is that I really enjoyed this book.

Firstly, I am motivated to write a review for this book because I am at a loss as to how anyone could so vehemently be opposed to it without having an axe to grind with the author, (as opposed to reviewing the actual story), but predominantly because, like other reviewers here, I absolutely loved it and naturally want to share my enthusiasm and recommend it to others.

For me, Shantaram is a truly engaging read. It is exceptionally well paced and will take you on a journey that will, at times, leave you breathless and unable to turn the pages quickly enough. The authors' consummate depiction of character, place and drama will absorb you entirely in a relentless mêlée between the most noble and absolute base capabilities of human nature. Love, loathing, beauty, repugnance, tenderness and brutality - it's all here, in spades. However, there are two sections of this book which will enable you to catch up and assimilate, placed roughly at intervals between the first and second third of the narrative, and again between the second and third section. Believe me, you'll need these opportunities to relax a little.

The story of Lin, his travels, trials, dilemma and relationships with the individuals within the book are both enthralling and captivating in extremis. I would make claim that it is easily placed in my top five `you must read this' books.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read 8 Oct 2013
This novel is both a combination of travel writing, crime thriller and one which questions your own beliefs as to the nature of of peoples crime and punishment for those who accept their wrongs. The prose if poetic although a bit flowery at times, I despaired the amount of times the author over described someones eyes and the flecks of various colours within. The main character is also a bit difficult to relate to at times. He's not likeable enough to dismiss his failings as acceptable nor is he flawed enough to be treated in the anti-hero mold. It is certainly better than average (3) but with enough gripes for me to consider it a masterpiece. I had two main issues. The first is as the way Lin is written. You initially think from the back cover that the story is autobiographical and this increases your interest. But as the story develops you feel that certain aspects are exaggerated and distorted. There is nothing wrong with poetic license but ultimately when it crosses into fabrication and you have been told otherwise I felt a little cheated and question what, if any of the story actually happened. My second gripe is the actual plot. The first half is gripping as we read Lin's story ad I was with him all the way but then about half way through there begins a sub-plot of an underground terrorist/revolutionary type that comes out of nowhere and bubbles under the surface for the rest of the book. Ultimately the reveal is disappointing. The final climax of the story as Lin travels on his greatest and most dangerous adventure since arriving in India also becomes apparent as probably not the actual truth and is a step too far plot wise for the wonderful, thought provoking character we meet at the beginning. With all that said, a good book will always have bits that not everyone likes and understandably those parts are more closely scrutinised and critiqued than perhaps those of a lesser book. It's worth a read without a doubt.
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146 of 166 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars sometimes excellent but sometimes awful 8 Jun 2008
This book is less a story than an epic journey - with emphasis on 'epic'. At over 900 pages it requires some stamina and will power to finish. Luckily, much of the story is a joy to read: there are parts of this book that are brilliant, for example Lin's experiences in an Indian prison and as a soldier in Afghanistan are truly memorable. The descriptions of Bombay bring vividly to mind a colourful, lively, characterful place which borders on lawlessness but is held together by an 'Indian' warmth and love. Roberts' great respect for India shines through at every stage, even when describing its more ugly aspects.
However, the thing that really lets this book down is its huge sense of its own importance. If this novel were a person, I get the feeling it would be a David Brent style character, with an inflated sense of its own importance in the world, demanding the full attention of everyone like a party bore. It is full of purple prose, some so bad I winced to read it - for example, 'some things are so sad that only your soul can do the crying for you'. It is also full of philosophies on life, drawn out and irrelevant to the story line. The narrator is constantly describing himself as a 'tough man' which grates after a while: we get it, you're very macho and brave and intelligent but also soft and kind and noble. the narrator seems to have a very high opinion of himself. he even tries to put a noble spin on his past crimes by justifying his choice of armed robbery over other crimes such as house burglary.
this book could have been brilliant with a strict editor: if it was halved in length, lost the purple prose and the main character was occasionally weak or stupid (as all human beings are from time to time). it is still brilliant, sometimes. but that is a far cry from what the author was clearly aiming for.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, couldn't put it
Very good,couldn't put it down
Published 3 days ago by terry dooley
5.0 out of 5 stars simply fantastic
A spiritual journey about love, life, death. Bombay through the lens of a convict, described and written beautifully. Not to be missed.
Published 4 days ago by Selma Khan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Such a fantastic book.
Published 4 days ago by Cheskie Baker
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Readable but not gripping or amazing
Published 6 days ago by Simon Park
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing must read .....
What an amazing story ,... I was gripped from the first page. This must rate with my top 10 book choice of all time.
Published 8 days ago by Mrs. Hilary Knowles
5.0 out of 5 stars Shantaram paperback
Nearly finished it but felt the need to write. What a great book, in my top 5. What a life Gregory (Lin) has had. Lived in squallor, luxury and treated them equally. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Kimbiker
4.0 out of 5 stars a very worthy read!
Long book with many stories in one mans extraordinary life. Leaves you questioning certain parts of the book and your own story...
Published 16 days ago by tony cassidy
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic
Fast paced and sometimes harrowing account of life on the run and survival using your wits. Excellent descriptions of Indian society and city life, you can feel the heat and city... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative Escapism... Literally.
Shantaram was, for me, one of those rare books that held the power of true transportation - and for that reason, I will always love and remember my (vicarious) adventures in... Read more
Published 16 days ago by JL Morse
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read. I have recommended this book to my ...
Unputdownable. Fantastic read. I have recommended this book to my family and friends and four of us have raced to the last page.
Published 16 days ago by Amazon Customer
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