This book is not new, on MTV or the latest fad by any means. I thought of it recently because it’s one of those books that always stays with you. Kind of like “Kite Runner,” (another one of my favorites). It’s been internationally acclaimed since it’s publication in 2003 and still remains the talk of book clubs.
A friend of mine asked me, “I need a book I can read while traveling this summer, but one that I can come back to and don’t have to finish all at once. I also want something NOT ABOUT PARENTING. Know of anything?”
At 933 pages long, Shantaram is for sure one that may last you all summer…or not. I read this book on a month-long trip my husband and I took (pre-baby) to Eastern Europe and Indonesia. By Bali, mid trip, I was finished and yearning for more.
It has nothing to do with how to potty train your little one, nothing to do with the best arts and crafts projects or nothing about the psychological garble of separation anxiety.
It’s a story that you an get lost in. It’s simply mesmerizing. The book takes place in the underground scene of modern Bombay. While narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees a maximum security prison in Australia, it is the story of the author himself, Gregory David Roberts, (although it’s a novel not an autobiography).
“Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears.”
-Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram
Lin’s faithful friend and guide, Prabakar, takes him to his village where the words dhal, mango pickle, matka, khurtah shirts, dhoti and of course, Shantaram, (which means man of God’s peace), all dance off the pages. It felt like a home away from home as I read, as this character, Lin, found his love for India during a monsoon.
But while it’s not your typical Indian Bollywood love story, it contains all the right elements to make one. There are beggers, gangsters, holy men, soldiers, actors, actresses, amazing hotels, love…but also prostitutes, exiles, prison, war, murder and friendship.
In some moments, it felt like the Godfather, when Lin meets Khader Khan, the Don of the Golden City, who is a criminal but philosopher and saint all at once.
And then it felt like James Bond with Karla, the elusive, dangerous, and of course gorgeous woman Lin falls for.
He doctors in slums, finds himself in an Afghani war and a ends up at one point in a heroine house.
Its one of those books, that will come to mind instantly when someone says, “I want to read a really good book. Haven’t read anything amazing in awhile.” Shantaram.
There’s also the rumor that Shantaram may end up as a movie soon… so this summer is the perfect time to read up and get caught in its marvelous heart of an epic story. Let me know if you have read it and your thoughts below!