Shantaram

I am reading a great book, Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts.  The book is closely based on Robert’s life, almost an autobiographical novel.

Sometime in the 1980’s, Roberts escapes from an Australian prison and finds himself in Bombay.   He falls in love with Bombay and its people.  He also falls in love with a Swiss woman living in Bombay, Karla, who seems unable to love him back.

His fake visa expires and he can no longer stay in hotels because of it.  Unwilling to extend the visa because of his fugitive status, his new friend Prabaker finds him a place living in the slums.  Here he begins to give basic medical care to the others living there, financing the needed supplies by setting up drug deals and black market exchanges for tourists.

He captures the attention of one of Bombay’s important mafia bosses who requests that he take the man’s 11 year old nephew to live with him for a few months, to teach the child English and the ways of an Englishman.

This is as far as I have gotten.  I am only about 1/3 of the way through the 944 pages of the novel.  I’m looking forward to having the time to finish it next week.

I usually read fairly fast, but I haven’t been able to do that with this book.  Roberts writes so well that I don’t want to miss one single word.  It’s rare for me to find a book like that.

I am hooked on this novel.  It is opening up a new world for me in the vivid descriptions of India and its people.  It’s one of those books that you miss reading when you finish it.

The book is mostly about love – his love for the city, its people, Karla, and many other individuals he finds himself loving.  His love for the simple, happy life he finds for himself living in the slums.

Despite all the horrible things that happen in the story (like a huge fire in the slums), it’s the love that makes it a happy book.  This encompassing love and the happiness it brings can really put our own lives in perspective.  It shows how happiness is found by meeting our needs, and how our wants sometime fade into the background.

Read any good books lately?

Random blogs I’ve read:

Tinkerbelle86’s Blog

Embracing Insanity

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7 Responses to Shantaram

  1. Hi Shell,

    Sounds like an excellent book.

    one of the last books I read was “A thousand splendid suns” by Khaled Hossenini.
    This is a moving story about a woman’s life in Afghanistan. It also gives us an insight as to how women were treated under the Talibans Rule,
    the author also wrote the “Kite Runner”

    PiP 😉
    Dont get time for any reading now with all this bloggin’ 🙂

  2. barb19 says:

    Sounds like my type of book, so I have added it to my book list! Thanks Shell for the review, and I hope you enjoy reading the rest of the book.
    I always have a book to hand and I’ve just finished one by Josephine Cox entitled “The Journey”. It’s about three strangers thrown together by a chance encounter which changes their lives forever. A deep, abiding love, incredible sacrifice, tragedy and passion run through the book. A great read!

    • Seashell says:

      I’ll have to add that one to my list, too! I love that our library lets you put books on reserve, so I can get through my book list as fast as I have the time to read. I’ve been spending a lot of time reading blogs and my book reading has suffered!

  3. Aloha says:

    I just finished a very, very moving memoir titled Night by Elie Wiesel today. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for it in the 80’s, and it basically details his experiences as a Jew in the Holocaust. He moved from concentration camp to concentration camp, lost almost his entire family, watched thousands of people die in front of his eyes, and narrowly avoided being gassed or cremated alive dozens of times.

    It’s probably the most emotional book I’ve read in months, but I would highly reccomend it. And I’ll have to check out Shantaram- looks intriguing!

    Thanks for linking my little patch o’ the interwebs =) I love your blog and your writing style.

    • Seashell says:

      Thank you for visiting and your kind words! I have read many books on the Holocaust and they all have moved me to tears. but I don’t think ‘Night’ is one of them. It’s sounds like another book to add to my list. Those books are all very hard to read emotionally. Although some don’t believe it ever happened, and most have a hard time imagining it, I think it is necessary for people to know the horrors that others can commit against the human race.

      • Aloha says:

        I agree. Ignorance is bliss, but we can’t live out our entire lives without acknowledging the past or history will repeat itself.

        Even if it’s terrifying.

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