Shantaram: A Novel by Gregory David Roberts
Shantaram was first suggested to me while bouncing along a dusty dirt road in a Jeep that was literally falling apart with each passing mile, somewhere in the south of India. I was chatting to some friends about books, and we decided it was high time we swapped some favourites. I lent out every Sebastian Faulks I owned and, in return, I got The Virgin Suicides and the recommendation of Shantaram. The first thing I did when I made it home was trawl through Amazon.co.uk until I found it, and then cry a little bit in horror at the size of it. It is a pretty colossal novel, but every page is worth it. Shantaram follows roughly ten years in the life of the author, after he escapes from prison in Australia and finds himself in Mumbai, India. The life of an escaped convict presents a number of obstacles for Roberts - or 'Lin__', as he becomes known - that eventually lead to him finding a new home in the notorious Mumbai slums. His relationships with both local and foreign characters add continuous twists to his adventure that are often bizarre, completely hilarious and, at times, heart-wrenching. The first time I read this book, I loved it because I could see so many of my Indian friends that I missed in the characters. The second time, it was the writing that really struck me and had me reading most pages two or three times to fully appreciate the beauty of Roberts' use of language. The third time, it was the hilarious situations Roberts found himself in (with the completely crazy friends he made!), and the fourth time it was the action that got me. Every time I pick up this novel I find something new to love, and I genuinely think this is a book that holds something for everyone. I promise, you are never going to want to put this down.
see previous Literate & Stylish posts here.