I love this book. When I first read it, I didn’t devour it. I savoured it. Like that gorgeous piece of chocolate that you take the teenest tiniest bites of, so as not to lose it all. Such was my reading of this epic novel. Some in Korea, then i deemed it too good a book to ‘waste’ in my downtown apartment, so i stored it until i was lying on a hammock, on the beach in Thailand. I’d close it from time to time, just to prolong the inevitable ending.
Pure wonderfully woven wordsmith. You can smell and taste every page.
If you haven’t read it… Here is the first page: (that is all you need)
Shantaram: A Novel
© 2003, by Gregory David Roberts
IT TOOK ME a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.
In my case, it’s a long story, and a crowded one. i was a revolutionary who lost his ideals in heroin, a philosopher who lost his integrity in crime, and a poet who lost his soul in a maximum-security prison. When I escaped from that prison, over the front wall, between two gun-towers, I became my country’s most wanted man. Luck ran with me and flew with me across the world to India, where I joined the Bombay mafia. I worked as a gunrunner, a smuggler, and a counterfeiter. I was chained on three continents, beaten, stabbed, and starved. I went to war. I ran into the enemy guns. And I survived, while other men around me died. They were better men than I am, most of them: bitter men whose lives were crunched up in mistakes, and thrown away by the wrong second of someone else’s hate, or love, or indifference. And I buried them, too many of those men, and grieved their stories and their lives into my own.
But my story doesn’t begin with them, or with the mafia; it goes back to that first day in Bombay. Fate put me in the game there. Luck dealt the cards that led me to Karla Saaranen. And I started to play it out, that hand, from the first moment I looked into her green eyes. So it begins, this story, like everything else — with a woman, and a city, and a little bit of luck.