Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

(28 Posts)
CatKisser Sun 31-Aug-14 10:21:06

My brother is nagging me to read this. He's usually right with his recommendations. I've just downloaded it - it's huge!
Has anyone read it and can tell me loosely what it's about, what it's similar to, etc? Refuse to read amazon reviews any more as some people seem to relish including massive spoilers. I'm intending starting it later today when Ive done the housework.

Suzannewithaplan Sun 31-Aug-14 11:16:26

I read most of it several years ago but then suddenly got sick of all his 'swashbuckling' and didn't read the last 100 or so pages.
I think I was enjoying it up till then.

Ohwhatfuckeryisthis Sun 31-Aug-14 11:19:44

I read it, I did get sick of his self absorption, but it was good in bits.

CatKisser Sun 31-Aug-14 11:22:29

Hmm, interesting. Must have really pissed you off to abandon it with so little to go!
Thanks both, I'm going to give it a go. Trouble is, I think Game of Thrones has ruined all other books for me!

TheTravellingLemon Sun 31-Aug-14 11:25:58

I really enjoyed it. I agree that it got a bit tiresome in parts, but overall I thought it was a good read.

It is the most self centred pile of wank that I have ever read. I HATE that book <breathes into a paper bag>

That said,I know some people love it

CatKisser Sun 31-Aug-14 11:33:13

Don't hold back there, Free
grin

tripfiction Sun 31-Aug-14 12:04:12

Hmm, love it or hate it, it will bring India to breathtaking/depressing/vivid/colourful/smelly life. Liked it, but it is long and struggled for the first 100 pages or so. Bearing in mind the book available today is the third writing (the other two versions got taken and destroyed by others) so for that, some credit due to the author, determined get his story down on paper. If I had a preference, might go towards Rohinton Mistry A Fine Balance. Hope that helps @Catkisser!

Suzannewithaplan Sun 31-Aug-14 12:58:57

I was enjoying it but his unrelenting and monumental heroism just got too much for the me.

I've no knowledge of game of thrones so cant say how it'd compare, suspect game of thrones has more 'mass appeal'?

Suzannewithaplan Sun 31-Aug-14 12:59:36

Me,
Not 'the me'!

Ohwhatfuckeryisthis Sun 31-Aug-14 21:58:53

If you fancy a book set in India I recommend Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra, it's a crime novel, but it gives you a feel for the huge overcrowded slums.

MollyMaDurga Sun 31-Aug-14 22:05:46

Or alternatively, Behind the beautiful forevers by Katherine Boo, non fiction, I think she won the pulitzer for it.
I really enjoyed Shantaram though, so he's bigget than life.. it's a cracking story, for the most part anyway and the rest is kind of self centered and boring. But overall I loved it.

I loved the first 3/4 then it went downhill. The protagonist is an up-himself wanker but the story carries you along mostly.

A River Sutra is my favourite novel about India although it's almost short stories with the link of the guest house. It's a much quieter novel than Shantaram though.

Selks Sun 31-Aug-14 22:16:20

It's no great work of fiction (and it is as much fiction as fact) but it is fascinating and wins hands down as the most gripping book ever IMO.
Have a read of the reviews on amazon, OP.

Scarletohello Sun 31-Aug-14 22:22:33

I loved it! Found it enthralling and fascinating. I was staying up till 3 in the morning reading it. I agree the last part trails off a bit but yes def worth a read IMO.

pippibuzzmarten Sun 31-Aug-14 22:30:10

A long slog, but worth the effort. I loved the first two thirds, then it got very tedious but picked up again towards the end. Stick with it. It's not an especially likeable book, I struggled to warm to any of the characters (real life people??!) but it is strangely compelling.

BringMeTea Mon 01-Sep-14 10:12:45

Oh it's awful. Truly terrible. The sex scenes are so badly written they're good though. Very funny.

CatKisser Mon 01-Sep-14 19:54:49

Thanks for these comments.
I started it last night and read....er, 8 pages before falling asleep. I haven't read at all enough to decide whether will enjoy it or not, but it seems readable in that the language isn't OTT and wanky... I am prepared to change my mind after reading further though.

SunnyL Mon 01-Sep-14 20:02:19

oh god I hated this book. ffecking awful trash that seems to be liked by people who have been 'travelling'. Avoid avoid avoid!

softlysoftly Mon 01-Sep-14 20:07:36

I loved it for the interesting depiction of India and found the fact it carried me along even though I detested the actual author/hero quite intriguing!

Suzannewithaplan Mon 01-Sep-14 22:39:58

I agree that the depiction of India was good, it was the last bit in the caves which just got to me and I stopped being into it

I quite enjoyed it for a while, until I got so fed up with him being the best at absolutely everything, and just wanted it to all end.

A Fine Balance is a billion times better.

XiCi Tue 02-Sep-14 18:39:13

I agree with your brother, I loved this book. It's one of those books that stays with you, cliche but true. I know a number of people who have read this and all have loved it, agree it did drag a bit in the Afghanistan section but then really picks up again towards the end.

I've read all of the other recommendations on this thread re books about India and more besides and none of them compare to Shantaram.

latika Tue 02-Sep-14 18:52:08

I loved this book too, although I totally agree with others about the first 2/3 of the book being the best. There were times I laughed out loud reading it 'under, underpants' and at one part I sobbed my heart out - won't spoil it by telling you when!

Having been to Mumbai many times it totally captures the spirit of the city, the amazing people who live there and the essence of the place. Also most of the places in the book Eg Leopolds are still there and when I went it was just like the book described. I've also been to the slum - Dharavi and it's like stepping into the book.

I'm not sure I would have loved it so much were it not for my love of all things Indian and especially Mumbai.

Stokey Tue 02-Sep-14 20:57:28

I couldn't stand it. Read The City of Joy for gritty realism or Eric Newby or William Dalrymple for travel, or About a Boy or Midnight's Children or Paul Scott. So many brilliant books set in India of which Shantaram is not one.

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