Book Review: SHANTARAM (2003)

Published by Shah Shahid on

I’m not a big fan of novels. I prefer my books to have pictures and word bubbles, and be less than a gazillion pages. However, after constant recommendations, I had to read SHANTARAM, a tale of one man and his quest for emotional freedom.

SHANTARAM features the story of an Australian convict, who escapes and starts a new life in India. His adventures cause him to fall in love, become a Messiah, get involved with Bollywood movies, fight with Terrorists in Afghanistan, as well as become involved with the Indian criminal underworld. It’s a lot of ground to cover for one man, which explains the length of this book. It’s a straightforward autobiography, about one part of this guys life, and—did I mention it’s a true story?

I think that aspect lends more credibility to this story than anything else. What you’re reading actually happened, making it that much more shock worthy. But then again, that’s the whole point right? I digress.

SHANTARAM is a great read, not just for what happens through out the story, but for the author’s tangents, which occur through out the book. All the while in between telling us what happens, the author shares his experiences from a spiritual and reflective perspective… about what happens.

He ponders the way these countries are; impoverished, yet he falls in love with the 3rd world country and decides to make it his home. Maybe it’s because I’m South Asian myself, but it was refreshing to hear the thoughts of a white man, about countries such as mine. And I don’t mean the beautiful hills, Buddhist Temples and other touristy crap that people love about India and the likes… but this guy talks about the stuff that’s horrible. The things that make South Asian countries destinations to be avoided by Foreigners, is what the author reflects upon, and is able to find the beauty and love in it all.

Even without the commentary, what this character goes through in the story is remarkable. Sure there are slow moments of excruciating philosophical reflections, however there’s just as much intense action and drama littered through out the story. SHANTARAM isn’t by any ones limited to one genre of a novel. It’s got something for everyone, not to sound cliché.

SHANTARAM is written quite well, for the most part. There are times where it seems like the author really likes the sound of his own voice, or rather… words typed on compute— it drags, is what I’m trying to say! The book itself is paced quite well, as those slow parts are often followed some intense occurrence. It’s an ambitious read, but definitely worth it for the avid Book Reader.

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Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


Ina &hersecretbollywoodlife · December 20, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Wasn’t Johnny Depp going to play this role? and then it fell through, or something like that. I am eager to read the book, thanks for the reminder. I was just thinking the other day, which book shall I read next?
There you go.

    Shah Shahid · December 25, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Yep. Johnny Depp was supposed to do this, with Mira Nair directing. Only reason I even knew of this book and one of the reasons I read it.

    Glad I could be of help ma’am. *tips hat.

Movie Review: DR. CABBIE (2014 ) - Blank Page Beatdown · September 21, 2014 at 4:11 AM

[…] really that makes the story that much more relatable.  Gregory David Robert mentions in his book SHANTARAM about the Indian people that, despite the hardships they face, there is never complaint or […]

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