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Publisher's Summary

"It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured."
So begins this epic, mesmerizing first novel set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum-security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear.
Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend Prabaker, the two enter Bombay's hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere.
As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums, and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The search leads him to war, prison torture, murder, and a series of enigmatic and bloody betrayals. The keys to unlock the mysteries and intrigues that bind Lin are held by two people. The first is Khader Khan: mafia godfather, criminal-philosopher-saint, and mentor to Lin in the underworld of the Golden City. The second is Karla: elusive, dangerous, and beautiful, whose passions are driven by secrets that torment her and yet give her a terrible power.
Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas - this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and a passionate love for India at its heart. Based on the life of the author, it is by any measure the debut of an extraordinary voice in literature.
©2003 Gregory David Roberts (P)2006 Blackstone Audiobooks
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Critic Reviews

" Shantaram is a novel of the first order, a work of extraordinary art, a thing of exceptional beauty. If someone asked me what the book was about, I would have to say everything, every thing in the world. Gregory David Roberts does for Bombay what Lawrence Durrell did for Alexandria, what Melville did for the South Seas, and what Thoreau did for Walden Pond: He makes it an eternal player in the literature of the world." (Pat Conroy)
"[A] sprawling, intelligent novel…full of vibrant characters…the exuberance of his prose is refreshing…Roberts brings us through Bombay's slums and opium houses, its prostitution dens and ex-pat bars, saying, You come now. And we follow." ( The Washington Post)
"Few stand out quite like Shantaram …nothing if not entertaining. Sometimes a big story is its own best reward." ( The New York Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Mickey on 04-15-14

Probably the best performance I've listened to.

Much has been said and written about Shantaram. It is controversial because it is reported to be somewhat based on the author's real experiences in escaping prison in Australia and living in Bombay. However, Gregory David Roberts has been accused of exploiting the real people that his characters are based on and of making promises to the slum dwellers in Mumbai that he never follows through on. All that aside, it is an extremely interesting and emotionally compelling story in which you come to love the characters portrayed. Sure, the writing is sometimes not very good. In fact, I actually laughed at some of the prose describing the first time that Lin makes love with Carla. But, all in all, it was a story that I didn't want to end.

Humphrey Bower's performance was just fantastic. His pacing, creation of characters, accents and emotional performance was just perfect for this sweeping novel. I don't think I've ever heard as good a performance except maybe from Craig Wasson's narration of King's "11-22-63: A Novel". I will be looking for other books that he has narrated.

I thoroughly enjoyed Shantaram and was sorry when it was over. I hope that Gregory David Roberts' reported sequel is as good and the on again, off again, movie version doesn't ruin the book.

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61 of 64 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Kathleen on 07-20-14

All about the narration

If I was reading this book I doubt I would finish it. Although much of the story is fascinating, I think all the philosophy and self aggrandizement would get very tedious. However, the narration is absolutely brilliant - the characters come to life, the different accents are flawless, it is hard to believe that one reader could have such a diverse range. Humphrey Bower has raised the bar for all readers.

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53 of 56 people found this review helpful

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