"Shantaram: A Novel" by Gregory David Roberts

Book Cover

(Anonymous Submission to old ClubReading website)

Lindsay or Linbaba, as the Indian people named him, is a fugitive whoescaped prison in Australia, where he served two years of his 19-yearsentence of arms robberies, which he used to do to support his heroinaddiction caused by loosing custody of his daughter in a failedmarriage. After the escape, Linbaba lands in Bombay on a fake NewZealand passport. Upon landing, he meets Prabaker who plays the guiderole and shows him even the most secretive parts of Bombay. In the sametime Lindsay meets Karla, a beautiful Swiss-American who works atLeopold's cafÈ the place where all the ex-pats hang out. Linbaba fallsdeeply in love with Karla and the love takes a complicated role in theplot.

Following one night when Lindsay is robbed of all his possessions,Prabaker brings him to the slums of Bombay where over twenty-fivethousand people lived in extreme poverty. There, Linbaba becomes the'doctor', taking care of people illnesses: rat bites, dysentery, anemia,etc. His unfortunate fate brings him within the walls of Arthur RoadPrison, a hellish place where he experiences the worst prisonconditions. He is released from prison and Lindsay gets involved withthe Bombay mafia, Abdel Khader Khan, which later on brings him inAfghanistan to fight against the Russians.

Roberts wrote the book in prison, two of the copies were destroyed in 13years and then he succeeded to write the last copy for publishing. Thewriting approach is far from flawless, but the book has a magneticappeal and it is hard to put down; its plot whirls into complicatedevents which are linked and explained in the end. The characters havefascinating personalities and have strong connections in the series ofevents.

It's interesting how the book reveals the underground scene of the 80sand how its ex-pats engaged in criminal activity to lead a high life inBombay. Despite the criminal activity he gets dragged into, Lindsaycomes out as a strong person with a great heart. His love for Karlagrows stronger in time even if she cannot return the same feelings. Heis a savior, a fighter and a survivor.

I strongly recommend this book as a work of action thriller, travelguide, love story and superb epic.

Review by Manuela "Neo-Hippy Books Review"

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