Shantaram

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#1 Dec 7th, 2003, 19:46
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#1
I've just finished reading this book. It's written by a man who escaped from an Australian prison and fled to India. It's about his experiences while living in Mumbai.

Shantaram

I'd be interested in hearing others' thoughts on this book.
#2 Dec 8th, 2003, 10:43
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This thread has been moved to the 'Books and Literature' section of the forum.

It sounds like a fascinating book.
#3 Mar 28th, 2004, 21:50
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#3

Shantaram

A friend brought back the novel Shantaram from Australia.
It is a fun read if you like to read about India. Anybody else read this?
#4 Apr 13th, 2004, 00:01
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Finished reading Shantaram this weekend. It's interesting to say the least and very informative regarding the politics in and around India.
Learned a lot about Bombay and the slums.
Give it a go if you get a chance.
#5 Jul 16th, 2004, 00:41
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Just finished reading "Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts. I must say I throughly enjoyed this book and I cant recommend it highly enough.

I just wonder how much of it is really true. Particularly about what he writes about his connection to the Bombay underworld, the Bombay film industry and also about Madame Zhou. (Those who have read the book will know what I am refering to) .

Even if he has taken significant liberties, it is still a wonderful book. I would rank it right up there with " A Fine Balance" etc. Would love to hear what others felt about the book.
#6 Jul 22nd, 2004, 07:49
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Shantaram is a novelisation of Greg Roberts’s actual experiences while hiding out in India for years after escaping from a maximum security prison in Australia. His experiences themselves are amazing; living in a Bombay slum and working as its ‘doctor’, hooking up with the underworld dons and working as a gangster, being nearly beaten to death in prison, fighting as a mercenary in Afghanistan… Apart for all this action and adventure, the heart of the book is Roberts’s own love of language, India, and his own meditations on crime and punishment, love and loneliness, and his desire to be a good man for himself and the woman he loves. At over 900 pages he gives himself plenty of room to do all this and more. You do get a very strong sense of India, particularly Bombay, and of the people he met. His characters include a lot of locals (he stayed six months in a village and was ‘employed’ in the mafia) and some of the kind of travellers who come to India and only ever leave in a body bag. His experiences are incredible - after reading it hardened India vets are likely to feel like relative novices. You don’t get to met many people with this kind of story, simply because most of them don’t live to tell the tale.

It’s a great read for India fans. His style is intimate, conversational, and will pull you through the many pages, assuming you can fit it in your backpack.

Greg Roberts was in Mumbai a few weeks ago promoting the book. It was originally released by a small publisher in Australia, but surprised everyone by becoming a best seller. He’s now got deals with international publishers and is on the road, so if you’re not Australian, this is your chance to get it - look out for him.
#7 Jul 23rd, 2004, 20:36
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Will-nice write up. I read Shantaram months ago and still reflect on it from time to time. My next trip I hope to see Mumbai.
Is there any historical documentation on Madame Zhou. I have actually seen photos taken at the bar in Mumbai that the ex-pats frequent.
Looking forward to reading "The Highway".
#8 Jul 23rd, 2004, 21:16
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Hi Owen and Meera,

Thanks for that.

Meera - A Suitable Boy does have a similar feel to Shantaram, in that they are both epic and lengthy tales that make you feel like they really take you inside a world and make you understand India better, though the worlds they describe are quite different. I was a fan of Seth's work as well, so you're bound to love Shantaram!

Owen - I'm not sure about Madame Zhou. I've just read an interview with Roberts in which he talks about her as if she's a real person. Perhaps the name has been changed, or maybe he used a couple of people as the basis for the character - but I'm sure there have been people like 'Madame Zhou' hanging out in Mumbai!

Here’s where I found the interview; http://www.anovelview.com/chats/greg...s_june2004.htm

Shantaram definitely made me look at Mumbai differently when I went back there after reading the book. Walking down the Colaba Causeway, seeing the police station and Leopold’s where so much action took place brought it alive for me and I could almost feel the ghosts...

I took a picture of the outside of Leopold’s last month. Its 820kb, so too big to post, but if your email inbox can handle it, send me an email and I’ll flick it over to you. (Anyone else too...) It’s a little drab in the harsh light of day, but you can colour it in with your imagination…
#9 Jul 23rd, 2004, 21:23
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i want to see the pic of leopold's too!! (what is so special about it? well i am interested in any mumbai pics). can't you resize it to 250 kb and post it in the IM picture gallery?
#10 Jul 23rd, 2004, 22:15
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#10
RIght ...On to Amazon to buy this
Volga ...Leopolds is just a cafe in Bombay. Its a traditional meeting point for people on the road
I was never such a fan of it but it does have a certain charm ...or at least did ...The Dhabar across the road was more my taste

Thanks for the reviews guys ...

Bryan
Then let us pray that come it may
(As come it will for a' that),
That Sense and Worth o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree an a' that.
For a' that, an a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That man to man, the world, o'er
Shall brithers be for a' that.
- Burns
#11 Jul 23rd, 2004, 22:33
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#11
Hey,

The shrinker worked!

Late afternoon in Colaba isn't that glamorous, but if those walls could talk...
Attached Images
leopolds.jpg 
#12 Jul 24th, 2004, 01:33
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I actually did some reasearch on Madame Zhou and Abdul Khader Khan thru some people in Bombay who would definitely know if they existed. Sorry to say I could not find anybody similar to both these people.

I believe that both these characters are very loosely based on actual people. Having said this, the various incidents in the book are very believeable even though they might seem over the top to most people not familiar with Mumbai. I lived in Mumbai for some time a long time ago and I think that (apart from the particular characters) it could - probably did happen in the manner written.

All in all a wonderful tale.
#13 Aug 3rd, 2004, 23:22
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I have just finished it and it was a great book, he really does have a talent for writing and the characters are wonderful.
I think as mumbai is such a big city people like madam zhou might only be known to those who need to know!!!
Perhaps a few of the characters are still hanging in leopolds (buisness must be booming there). Its based quite a few years ago and people move on and places change Iwould guess its mostly all true. I wish he could have put a few pictures in that book though.
#14 Aug 4th, 2004, 07:30
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#14

shantaram

Just finished reading Shantaram - and enjoyed it.

This link will give you an opportunity to read the first chapter and check out a few photographs :-

http://www.anovelview.com/greg_roberts.htm
#15 Aug 9th, 2004, 01:09
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#15

USA - Advance Reading Copy

Hello Friends:

I received an advance reading copy of Shantaram at Book Expo America a few months ago( it will not be released in the USA til October), and have been reluctant to pick it up given its length.

I finaly caved and started reading two days ago, and have rarely put it down since. A fantastic work, and one of the most realistic portrayals of India I have seen since Granta did that wonderful issue on the country, and their piece on Naipul's journals.

I too wonder where Roberts draws the line between his own life, and his fiction, yet I must say it was wonderful to see the picture of Leopolds in a previous post.

I am a writer as well....and have much respect for Mr. Roberts. I hope to see him here in Chicago should his publisher care to send him. If you are truly bored, there is info on my books at www.timsteil.com

Best:

Tim
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