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My god What an incredible load of drivel this is Though there is room in the world for large stories largely told, Gregory David Roberts self aggrandazing pseudo autobiography teems with ludicrously bad prose, characters so flat I d like to use them to keep water off my bathroom floor, dimwitted philosophy, and self love I quite literally had to stop reading from embarassment at the sex scenes my body was her chariot and she rode me into the sun ye gods , and repeatedly found myself saying, No, actually , at Roberts increasingly idiotic turns of simile and metaphor even outside that context.Absolute drek. I moved this from my currently reading shelf to my read shelf because there is no I gave up on this piece of crap shelf 600 pages into it, I had to set myself free by throwing it in the toilet No, seriously, I threw it in the toilet Then I had to fish it out and clean the deluge of toilet water all over the place created by this tremendously large and heavy piece of crap book This book makes me angry because I will never get that 600 pages of my life back I could have been doing something important like closing my eyes really tight to see an intersting light show or going through my neighbors trash A great deal of this book is obviously autobiographical I base this clever decution on the fact that the author, who is a former convict who escaped from prison and fled to Bombay where he lived in the slums, started a free medical clinic and joined the mafia, writes a book about a guy who escapes from prison and flees to Bomabay where he lives in the slums, starts a free medical clinis and joins the mafia As such, it is written in the manner of someone who is scared of offending their former host and who also seems concerned that flaws in the main character will reflect badly on himself, the author This sacrifices any possibility of creating an intersting, dynamic or realistic main character It is comletely uncompelling and entirely unbelievable The story of a westerner who integrates himself into Indian society, starting in the slums, should be facinating To read this, everything and everyone is wonderful, the people are all so loving and beautiful, blah blah blah Maybe all that is true, but hey there main character, weren t you a little frustrated and embarrassed when everyone in town lined up to watch you take a crap every morning Everything negative the character experiences is presented as an account of facts, everything positive is a big sappy gush fest Give me a break Then the reader is then regaled with pages upon pages of various characters spoon feeding each other philosphy Sad twelve year old girls writing poetry could provide inspiration.I don t understand why this book gets such good reviews There are so many amazing books about India Read one of them Better yet, just go to India The money you would spend on this book will get you at least 2 meals depending on where you are If you ve had the misfortune of receiving this book as a gift, use it to kill spiders or keep it by your bedside to throw at possible intruders Just don t waste your time reading it. I managed 200 pages of this utter drivel before giving up completely Poorly written nonsense which is gathering critical acclaim from people who probably read one book a year At one point during a scene when the narrator is looking at a river he ACTUALLY writes I was thinking of another river A river that runs through all of us The river of the heart I do not have time in my life for this sub Danielle Steel horseshit.EDIT About ten years on I still keep getting activity on this review Reading it back now, there s no denying it I sound like a total dick I didn t like the book but that s no reason to be such a pompous tool I guess I was in a bad place at the time I ll leave it up here as both historical record and a warning stuff you write when you re younger may make you cringe a decade on. There s enough reviews on this book I m not going to summarize it again I love this book, and yes it s massive but I think I ve read it 3 times It s not perfect but the parts that are great make up for the wobbly bits I thought I d throw in some of the lines I liked The world and I are not on speaking terms, Karla said to me once in those early months The world keeps trying to win me back, she said, but it doesn t work I guess I m just not the forgiving type If you want to curdle the milk of your human kindness, or turn your compassion into contempt, get a job as a waitress or a cleaner The two fastest ways to develop a healthy loathing for the human race and its destiny is to serve food, or clean up after it, on the minimum wage I have done both jobs, in those terrible days when I was forced to work for a living It was horrible I shudder now in thinking about it That s where I learned that nothing ever really changes When we re young, we think that suffering is something that s done to us When we get older when the steel door slams shut, in one way or another we know that suffering is measured by what s taken away from us Guilt is the hilt of the knife that we use on ourselves, and love is often the blade but it s worry that keeps the knife sharp, and worry that gets most of us, in the end At first, when we truly love someone, our greatest fear is that the loved one will stop loving us What we should fear and dread, of course, is that we won t stop loving them, even after they re dead and gone. If I met the protagonist, Linbaba, in the flesh, I d, well, I d beg my meatiest friend to rough him up Repeatedly Lin s adventures in Bombay are apparently based on humble author Gregory David Roberts s exploits playing savior and mafiosi there while in hiding after a daring escape from an Australian prison thanks for a fellow goodreader for correcting me I had previously written New Zealand LinBaba becomes irksome and tiresome after Part 1, repeatedly offering little nuggets of pseudowisdom to summarize what he has learned from a particular person or situation I actually really despise the aforementioned phrase nugget of wisdom but I find it accurate here to really emphasize the fact that these nuggets are fleeting and become utterly meaningless because there are apx 10 per page Along with the wisdom, most of the novel consists of the protagonist vacillating between moral extremes as either a savior of street and slum or a thug loyal to a Bombay mafia don For all of these roles, and all of the blurring of good and evil, though, the novel still comes up short in terms of complexity in thought, theme, and characterization I particularly found Lin s trust and god like admiration of Khader, his mafia boss and father figure, too simplistic and naive Everything was just a bit too dizzying and dazzling, like Roberts knew this was going to be picked up by Hollywood Lin insists upon showing readers that he has connections in all of Bombay s divergent milieus from Bollywood, to the slums, to the mafia, to the expats and the heroin dens, LinBaba knows all He even goes to Afghanistan in the midst of the Soviet invasion This novel needs unity and focus moving from one incident to another, with a bit of wisdom in between, gets tedious and vexing All that negativity aside, this was a grand adventure story and was, for all my complaints, entertaining Roberts obviously has a flair for dialogue, capturing the dialects of German, French, and Indian speakers, and Prabaker, Lin s best friend in Bombay, is a standout character Actually, he was the best part of the novel for me, and far realistic and entertaining than anyone else. This is possibly the best book I ve ever read It was given to me by a friend of mine who loved it, and said that before she read it she had no desire to go to India, but after having read it she couldn t wait to go.This book is over 900 pages, so I found it a little challenging to start b c I didn t want to carry it around with me to read on the bus too bulky and I was so tired each night that I couldn t read than a page or two But I finally got a chance to read a small chunk of it in one sitting and that was it for me I loved it and couldn t put it down.There are a few notable things about this book One is that it s billed as a novel but I m 90% certain that these things all actually happened to the author I think he wrote it as a novel so he could change some names and protect the innocent or guilty Another amazing thing is how well it s written This guy isn t really a trained writer, and I think he has a natural ability which is very rare I am exceedingly critical of bad writing styles, and not once did anything in this book irritate me Perhaps because he is such a great writer, all of the characters are well developed and you find yourself wanting to know what happens with each of them and there are a lot I honestly couldn t name all the characters he describes in detail than probably any other book I ve read But at no point did I find myself thinking I couldn t keep track of who was who which I often do , and I really cared about each of these people personally.The story itself is phenomenal, and I have been giving this book to everyone I know Read it It s amazing and it will be one of the best books you ve ever read. The way Roberts describes Indians in this book is like a series of bad caricatures I cringed terribly There is the over friendly and smiling, trusting, barbaric, not very clever, poor Prabaker I HATED the way he wrote Prabaker s English It made him sound like a racist Disney character or like the golum from LOTR to the cool and smooth Iranian gangster if you like ridiculous Bollywood movies, this is the book for you In typical fashion, the white guy is the hero of nearly every scene, a la Patrick Swayze in City of Joy, as if people who lived in slums sit around waiting for a white hero to come and save them.BUT there were things I liked about the book aside from the sweet friend who lent it to me It is cushioned in so much love for India and its people And while that love is sometimes really dramatic and poorly written like when he ends each chapter with an epiphany or worse, the love scenes you get the sense as the book moves on that he becomes of an insider telling the story from inside and not from outside, which is incredibly admirable How many white people do I know that would move to the slums of Bombay, learn Marathi, visit a village, fight street dogs, etc etc For those moments alone, I was glad to be reading it. Returning to read Gregory David Roberts epic novel again, I found myself drawn to the complexities and nuances embedded throughout the text As the novel opens, the reader is introduced to Lin, a man who has escaped his Australian jail and arrives in Bombay, hoping to hide in India s vast populace Early on, Lin is forced to realise that India is a beast unlike any other culturally, racially, and economically It is, however, home to many who have the same idea, hiding from their criminal pasts elsewhere These include Karla Saarinen, a woman who occupies Lin s mind and dreams from the moment he lays eyes on her As Lin befriends others who have recently arrive in country, seeking to blend into the billions around him with vague and beige backstories, he meets a tour guide, Prabaker Prabu Their connection is almost instantaneous, soon becoming an entertaining pair throughout the narrative Prabu is able to help Lin make numerous connections in and around the city While they venture out to better explore Bombay and eventually other parts of the state, Lin learns the culural differences between India and his Australian upbringing As Prabu and Lin continue their adventures, the latter finds himself living in the city s slums and opens a medical clinic to cater to the poorest population, where Lin becomes involved with the shady underworld and black market living Throughout the book, Lin crosses paths with those whose simple conversations turn philosophical and force him to digest complex analyses to the universe s most basic concepts When offered a position working in forged passports by the Bombay Mafia, Lin accepts, if only to explore new pathways to survival His living in the slums of Bombay prove not only eye opening, but life changing in ways that the reader can only understand by being enveloped in the larger narrative Even as Lin is able to build himself up in his new homeland, he is broken by the cruelest and most sadistic Indians, especially when his identity is learned and extradition considered Roberts offers so much in this narrative that it is hard to summarise or believe that this is the life of a single man on the run However, where truth ends and fiction commences, the reader is permitted a front seat for everything and the chance to change alongside Lin throughout A must read by any and all who want to offer up all they feel they know, only to finish the book and question everything.Set in the early to mid 1980s, the story weaves together a collection of vignettes within Lin s Indian life, while also telling an overarching story of change and progress I have read that some criticise Roberts for being too free with his truths and duping the reader, though I must say that fiction is all about embellishment or at least working with a clay and forming it into an image of your choosing Roberts writing style is so blunt and yet smooth that the reader cannot help but get lost therein The daunting size of the book should not deter the interested reader, as the vignettes play out easily and the characters are rich in their backstories and mesh well with the larger tale Roberts has certainly held back little in this account of his life on the run , but also offers gaps significant enough to keep scores of questions floating in the minds of the attentive reader Will these be resolved and if so, how does it all play into the narrative Roberts presents The second volume of this quasi memoir should tell , though the bar has already been set quite high I am eager to see how the detail will continue and what Roberts has to say with the handful of characters still involved in Lin s life This is a brilliant piece of work and I can only imagine what is to come.I cannot finish this review without commenting on the narrator of the audiobook version of this massive tome Humphrey Bower brought the story to life, from his melodious Australian accent in the narrative to the countless accents that he brought out to give characters their personality I adore Bower s work and his dedication to another favourite author of mine made me wonder, when first I listened, if this was that writer using another name Powerful and daunting, Bower deserves a shout out for his reading of this piece I am worried that the second volume, which I must physically read gasp , will prove much difficult without Bower at the helm.Kudos, Mr Roberts for this epic story With simplistic writing and complex threads, a vast array of readers will surely enjoy this book Onto the sequel, which one can hope is as exciting and life altering Like hate the review An ever growing collection of others appears at {READ E-PUB} ê Shantaram ⛅ 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 DisappearAccompanied 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 ElsewhereAs 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 PowerBurning 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 Have you ever been in a relationship that you were just done with but you were hoping they would end it and so you suffer through, day after day, rolling your eyes every time that person does that THING that you HATE and, yah, it was kind of fun at first but if they keep doing that THING that you HATE, you are going to end up saying something really mean and you really don t want to do that because they mean well and are nice but they just drive you up the wall You know what you need to do You need to save both of you trouble and pain and just dump that person already, and frankly, that s how I feel about this book, so even though I m nearly at the end, I can t take it any I roll my eyes every few minutes, I dread turning the audiobook on It had it s good moments and its merits but this is NOT the book for me.This book is billed as a semi autobiographical story I m not sure what to make of that, though I guess it s honest than some authors are The story feels a bit like a diary While the protagonist is almost always the center of any story, this one is particularly so The main character interacts with other people, and we get some back story on them, but they are always half hearted accounts and they only serve as conduits for learning about the narrator This format, wherein you only ever see as far as the main character comprehends the situation, can work, but it s done so lazily, here Throughout the book, the main character meets someone and then says something like I don t know why but I the person right away Lazy Lazy lazy lazy writing People feel that way, but authors owe it to their readers to make THEM feel as though they don t know why but they the person The most atrocious example of this lazy writing is the love at first sight nonsense I do genuinely believe that people feel intense attractions to certain other people at the moment they see them, but, again, it s the authors job to paint a picture that tells us what he sees in that person At best, he gives us a portrait of a woman he thinks is beautiful and that he doesn t understand, which means the only thing we feel is that there s some pretty woman with no personality and no complexity to speak of and we are supposed to believe she s worth pining over These many people the author interacts with, drive the story forward and serve as motivation but, at least for me, I never understood why I don t cry why people die, I don t feel bad when people leave I don t know why one woman is or less desirable than another I am simply told that this is how the character feels.While this issue struck me from the outset, there is a lot in the story that is interesting and compelling I ve only had a superficial, tourist experience with India, so learning about everyday life and people there is wonderful, but just as I d start to sink into the story, I d be jarred by my second peeve about this book The author, over and over again, stops the story to make some sort of metaphor about how some event or emotion is like some sort of grandiose, most important thing that has ever been and pretty much everything is the most something that has ever something ed This isn t a case where he makes a particular point, once, maybe twice, that is central to the story Nope, it s trite little sayings like Truth is a bully that we all pretend to like and Silence is the tortured mans revenge and Guilt is the hilt of the knife that we use on ourselves and on and on it goes, breaking up the flow of the story so the author can impress you with how clever he is Like exclamation points and adverbs, this sort of mental masturbation needs to be applied sparingly, but it s constant and it wasn t too long before I started to get so focused on when the next detour down poetry lane would be that I simply stopped hearing the story, altogether On the other hand, if you want to get really piss drunk, try having a shot every time he pulls one of these gems out You ll need your stomach pumped I ll concede that my concerns might be largely a stylistic preference There are certainly a fair number of people who thought this story was wonderful and poetic It s not for me, though, and I m happier for admitting defeat on this I ll never know how the story ends and I m fine with that I give it 2 stars because there really were times when I was engrossed in the story.