I completed Shantaram. Achievement!
Gregory David Roberts’ Shantaram is a stunning book. It is a big, exciting, intelligent and genuine tale. It has Sufism as well as Prison Fundas, Spiritual Discussions as well as Street Fighting Ideas, Mumbai Chawls as well as Afghan Deserts.
Check out the opening para :
“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. I realised, somehow, through the screaming of my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is an universe of possibility. And the choice you make between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.” Wow!
Some of the other quotes which I liked are:
1. Wrong things for the right cause
2. What characterizes the human race more – cruelty or the capacity to feel shame for it?
3. Every virtuous act has some dark secret in its heart.
4. Every risk we take contains a mystery that cannot be solved.
5. 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 are dead and gone.
6. Some of the worst wrongs are caused by people who try to change things
Mira Nair is producing the Shantaram movie starring Johnny Depp as Shantaram and Amitabh Bachchan as Kaderbhai. It is backed by Warner Bros and due to be released in 2007. Gregory David Roberts was born in Melbourne in 1952. After surviving the events dealt with in Shantaram, he was captured in Germany in 1990 and eventually extradited to Australia. After he completed his prison sentence, he established a small multi-media company, and is now a full-time writer. Now, to give back to the city, he has set up the Shantaram Charitable Trust. His mission: To rid all the city slums of tuberculosis, starting from his beloved Colaba area.
Scribe Website’s Review of Shantaram:
Shantaram is a novel based on the life of the author, Gregory David Roberts. In 1978 Roberts committed a series of robberies while addicted to heroin, and was sentenced to nineteen years’ imprisonment. In July 1980 he escaped over the front wall of Victoria’s maximum-security prison, in broad daylight, thereby becoming one of Australia’s most wanted men for what turned out to be the next ten years. His journey took him to New Zealand, Asia, Africa, and Europe, but his home for most of those years was Bombay — where he established a free medical clinic for slum-dwellers, and worked as a counterfeiter, smuggler, gunrunner, and street soldier for one of the most charismatic branches of the Bombay mafia. Shantaram deals with all this, and more. It is an epic, mesmerising tale of crowded slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison torture, mafia gang wars and Bollywood films, and spiritual gurus and brutal battlefields. It weaves a seamless web of unforgettable characters, amazing adventures, and superb evocations of Indian life. This remarkable book can be read as a vast, extended thriller, as well as a superbly written meditation on the nature of good and evil. It is a compelling tale of a hunted man who had lost everything — his home, his family, and his soul —and came to find his humanity while living at the wildest edge of experience. Nothing like this has been written before, and nobody but Greg Roberts could have written it now. It is a huge book in every sense. It is over 940 pages in length (about 385,000 words), and it has a sweep and a power that will captivate readers around the world. It is, quite simply, unputdownable.