Books | How Lindsay became Shantaram
I loved Shantaram – both the character and the book. And Gregory David Roberts is now my close favourite author after Jeffrey Archer. And you have to read the book to know what I am talking about.
When I first heard of the book, I thought it might be another one of those attempts by a new author to display his ever-expanding vocabulary wrapped in some usual story line…. However I was first shocked to learn that the book that carries a title that sounds more Indian, was not written by an Indian author. I was still more surprised to learn that the author had written about life in the slums of India…I mean how does a foreigner know what it tastes like in there?
And the opening lines of the book are the best openers that I have ever come across. Simply superb. HIn reality, the author is an Australian who had come to India and lived here in the slums and the underworld for a decade and the book is about his experiences there. What really made me connect with the book was the style of the authors writing. Simple, neat, chirpy and very down to earth.
Lindsay, the protagonist of the work runs off to India with a fake passport and then becomes a part of the lesser world here. He meets Prabakar in India who becomes his partner in crime throughout his roller-coaster ride here. His experiences – as expected and yet very refreshing – make up most of the book. Each section of the book, whether it be the makeshift first-aid center that Linbaba (as Lindsay comes to be known in the slums) or his falling in love with Karla who entices him into the world of sex-workers; has an identity of its own…. Lindsay is even recruited by the mafia where he indulges in smuggling; and even travels to Afghanistan where he gets shot.
The work is largely biographical of the author’s life and experiences that follow after his wife left him and his personal life fell apart. He then indulged into the greyer walks of life and most of the book’s narratives are based on that. Writing in his extremely simple narrative fashion, Roberts manages to spin his magic on the reader and so transports you into the world banished by the society that you wish you were there to witness it all firsthand. And his serene simplicity is what becomes Roberts’ USP.
Shantaram is a dive into something beyond what the words convey. You cannot help feeling a calm pervade on you after you complete the book. You read between the lines and then muse to yourself about the experiences translated into the lines of the book. It is definitely an expirience worth your time and I assure you of its captivity on your conscience.
If you haven’t read it, you are missing something very essential. Go grab a copy!
[And yes! There is movie coming soon too! The book’s excellence is substantiated by the fact that Mira Nair is adapting it into a movie that has Jhonny Depp and Amitabh Bachchan starring in the lead roles. ]