Shantaram, the amazing biography of Gregory David Roberts has had a buzz about it ever since it has hit the bookshelves. Candid, unobtrusive and irresistible in storyline and narration the book stands out for it description of the entity called life .At times awe inspiring and at times spine chilling this is the account of the author’s life, a beauteous journey which made him break out of an Australian prison and come to India on a forged passport, live in a slum as a doctor, work for the Mumbai Underworld and even fight against the Russians in Afganistan, every line of this fascinating book is profound and verbose. For a book of more than 900 pages to be a page turner is no mean feat and the author has done this with an amazing sense of alacrity. The supporting characters are well etched out and completely justify their use in the story line. One of the outstanding features of this book is the celerity with which it espouses philosophy which is all encompassing and includes everything from the Big bang theory to the ancient wisdom of India. The book is chronicled with examples and one liners which manage to convey the amazing depth of the writer’s thought process.
An astonishing fact is that the book was destroyed as many as six times when the author had first written it in the prison, it is but an exemplary example of the tenacity and grit of the author who has finished it in the face of such adversity with such élan! No aspect of life is left out and the nefarious ways in which life doles out blows to individuals who struggle to come to terms with the startling turn of events is captured in a compelling manner. Another quality which leaves a mark on the reader is the restrained lyricism of words which manage to leave a lasting impression. It is extremely easy for one to relate to the events unfolding in the book because of the sheer force of story telling employed. It poses questions, demands answers and induces many such incidents which are thought proving and gut wrenching.It also unleashes the hypnotic power of truth by concealing it in the simplest of words.
The greatest achievement of this book is however the manner and spirit in which it chooses to express itself, lines which seem commonplace but are not, incidents which seem trivial but are often hiding in them the mystical force of fate and the tacit method it employs to drive the point home-don’t ever give up! It manages to transport the reader to a world of adventure, triumph and sorrow with the usage of its exotic words and eclectic vocabulary. A survivor’s account the book is an uninhibited victory over odds. It coerces you to challenge its notions, seduces you only to spurn you and rivets you with unabashed fury. In a world where everything shiny sells,this book is the uncrowned and unparalleled king of understatement.