‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts

Some people can really enjoy a fashion guru, who tells tells them which clothes to buy and how to wear them and who dispenses little pearl of wisdom about fashion, as if it was glamour running through his veins.

On the other side, some other people can enjoy a bit more a book adviser, a well of infinite wisdom, a soul connector, who’s able to find your soulmate amongst the billions of books out there.

I definitely go for the book adviser – even if someone would argue that I need the fashion guru the most.

My book adviser is a dear friend of mine. As it may happen that I don’t hear from her for a while, it may happen that our next conversation starts with a book that I “absolutely have to read. No, seriously, you’ll love it”.

I may be paraphrasing her words, but it doesn’t change what happens then: the next day I’m at the bookshop, by the end of the week the book is finished and I have one more reason to worship my book-guru.

I really don’t know how she does it, but thanks to her I found the most deep connection with books I would have never considered otherwise.

One of these many books is ‘Shantaram’, written by Gregory David Roberts.

Second book of a quadrilogy – which still lacks the first, third and fourth part – it’s a pretty big book, but it’s so gripping that you don’t really notice it.

It’s the story of Lin (short for Lindsay), an armed robber and heroin addict who escaped from an Australian prison to India and the Bombay slum.

It’s a monument to kindness and humanity, starting from his encounter with Prabaker ‘of the big smile’, who gave Lin the Maharashtrian name of Shantaram, meaning ‘Man of God’s Peace’.

Normally I should introduce you to what happens in the story, but in this case is difficult to sum it all together. Living in Bombay slum, Lin will establish a free health clinic, join the mafia, learn hindi and marathi, fall in love with a dark and dangerous woman and he will also find the time to be worked over in an Indian jail. I’m quite sure I forgot something, but you got the picture.

Of course, you can read this book as a great long series of adventure, but it’s much more.

Shantaram is a lesson about love, life and respect. It’s about the courage to do what’s right and treasure what you have and the people you meet. It’s a lesson about how to become human, all over again.

Many would be disappointed, though, to know that it’s not entirely a true story. Gregory David Roberts was actually in prison, when he wrote this book, but this is not his autobiography.

What’s true is that he had to write the whole story three times, after the guards trashed the first two versions.

So, all of this did not actually happen. Roberts didn’t actually fight the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, or he didn’t act in Bollywood.

Still, his willpower is remarkable and inspirational and for sure he has a hugely important lesson to pass on to us all.

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If you want to know more about this book: Goodreads

If you want to buy this book: Amazon

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3 Comments

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this book! And even happier that you introduced it to your husband, so that he could enjoy it too.
      It’s always great to bring people to read stories like this one, a brilliant story, indeed.

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