Evocative Escapism... Literally.
Shantaram was, for me, one of those rare books that held the power of true transportation - and for that reason, I will always love and remember my (vicarious) adventures in Gangland India...
The tales of Lin (Gregory David Roberts) are by his accounts, entirely true. Major criticism levelled at Shantaram elsewhere centres on the near impossibility of this fact, but isn't that the point of fiction? To take you into another life, another way of looking at the world? The author totally lives up to this brief, even if he had to escape multiple prisons (mental and physical) and war zones to do so.
Shantaram is truly epic, with sweeping scope - which to be honest, I feel was so vast, I would have appreciated a little *more* towards the end. How did Lin manage to write, publish and promote the book whilst being one of Australia's most wanted men?
There must (as always) be more to the story, which perhaps fizzled somewhat in the caves of Afghanistan (but then, war is always a full stop for me personally) - or perhaps it was in the umpteenth different description of love-interest Karla Saraanen's eyes? (And every other person he met... if you like eyes, you'll love Shantaram).
I forgive it all of this. For every smile of his friend Prabaker, for every beautiful simile and metaphor (of which there are many)... for making me feel like, for a few short days, I was in Mumbai in all her heaving glory.
It's not a light read, but let yourself be moved, and Shantaram will take you.