Reviews of Shantaram (2003)
Review by jhwelsch (2010-04-08)
I love books and honestly believe this is the best novel I have ever read! My son gave it to me the night before we headed off on a short vacation. It's a HUGE book so my first inclination was to leave it behind to be read upon my return. After a quick read of the first page or two, however, I was hooked. Consequently, I emptied my luggage of the other books I'd packed and took this one. Throughout our vacation and beyond, I could not put it down.
This is the story of an escaped Australian convict who fled to India and builds a new life there. The life is not one that most of us would envy but, if nothing else, it’s an exciting one. Shantaram is a story of selfishness and self sacrifice, love and hate, joy and sorrow.. The story seems fantastic but, in fact, the bio of the author and the novel itself are so similar that one must wonder which parts are fact and which are fiction. In fact, I cannot shake off the suspicion that Mr. Roberts tells the story as a novel so as not to be accused of confessing to some of the activities that occur in the novel.
The descriptions of people and settings are both vivid and believable. I've only been in India once and then only for a few days. However, nothing in my limited experience is in conflict with the conditions described in Shantaram. I have many friends in India and at least one has both read the book and lived in Mumbai. He, too, says that the setting and conditions are totally believable. Mr. Roberts at the same time took me back to India and intensified my desire to return for another visit.
I was sorely disappointed when I reached the book’s end and am eagerly awaiting the Kindle version of sequel, “Mountain Shadow”. I've recommended the book to many friends and not one has expressed disappointment. This is a 100% "must read".