So I finished Shantaram today, and I can’t stop crying. I swear I’ve been crying for 30 minutes, tears are rolling down my face as I’m writing this. That book consumed me for 6 weeks of my life, I didn’t want it to be over. I wanted to be with Linbaba for every crazy journey he would embark on until he died, but that wasn’t the case. I feel extremely filled, but saddened.
I’m generally a quick reader. In January, I flew through 4 books, and thought it was a brilliant start to the new year. The books that I read were the last on my 2013 reading list, and they all had that cultural-spiritual undertone to them. Though I had nothing specific in mind for my next read, I was definitely not in the mood for crime/fantasy/autobiography. I wanted very much to continue on these tragic and spiritual journeys with strong characters who I saw myself in. A friend of mine recommended Shantaram, and I downloaded it that same day. Side note, I do love reading physical books, but I love my Kobo at moments like these… when I googled Shantaram and realized it was 950 pages! As if I would lug that around on the bus!
So this novel was influenced by real events in the life of the author, Australian Gregory David Roberts. A bit of background, without any crazy spoilers: In 1978, Roberts was sentenced to a 19-year imprisonment in Australia after being convicted of a series of armed robberies. In July 1980, he escaped from Victoria’s Pentridge Prison in broad daylight, becoming one of Australia’s most wanted men for the next ten years. The book is about Lindsay, the protagonist (the author), and his epic journey/life in Mumbai… the place where he escaped to.
Basically, I had no desire to visit India before I read this book, but now… it’s a consuming thought. I wanted to read it slowly once I understood the book’s energy, but I couldn’t put it down… and now I regret that. I wish I read it throughout the year, because there is so much to dwell on. Whether it’s the clever and witty life lessons of the French character Didier, the philosophical discussions with Khaderbai, the mafia don, or Lin’s beautiful insights into the Indian culture and his own broken and beautiful life. I seriously couldn’t get enough. Shelving this in my collection of future rereads. I recommend you get the hard cover, and have a pen readily at your side when you read. This book will touch your heart, and be sure to underline those sentences that sing to you, the ones that make you cry and the ones that make you laugh. I’ll never forget Shantaram, which translates to ‘man of God’s peace.’ Thank you my darling Dena, for bringing this book into my life.
“Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we can never know which one is which until we’ve loved them, left them, or fought them.” Lin
“She said I was interested in everything and committed to nothing.” Lin
“If fate doesn’t make you laugh, then you just don’t get the joke.” Karla
This conversation between Lin and two Indians #lol
“You idiots! You nearly killed us all for nothing! Driving like a speed-freak-arsehole-Bombay-taxi-driver with the cops up his arse! The passports are back at the sister-fucking hotel. I stashed them because I wanted to be sure of you two motherfuckers first. Now the only thing I’m sure of is that you guys haven’t got the brains of two fleas on a pariah’s balls”
“Where the fuck did you learn to speak Hindi like that?” the driver asked. “It’s fuckin’ great, yaar. You’re speaking like a regular Bombay sisterfucker. It’s fantastic, yaar!” “Damn impressive, man!” his friend added, wagging his head admiringly.