(Gregory David Roberts)
'Shantaram' a semi-fictitious, an exhaustive narrative by Gregory David Roberts epitomises how humanity prevails over all other vices in the world.A journey made by an outlaw, crossing the realms of all the imaginable vices in the world from -drug-trafficking to making fake passports; transferring illegal currency to harmful weapons is depicted in a tell-tale fashion. Most of the story revolves around Mumbai, the commercial capital of India. The book with it's elaborate description of the Mumbai's social setting takes us on a guiding tour into the lives of the most common men, the slum-dwellers along with the most powerful illegal forces operating there. Shantaram a.k.a Linbaba enters India as a part of his escapade from a foreign prison and here the most unexpected events of his life are unfurled throwing him into the chaos of Mumbai. Grappling with the stream of surprises that are being poured into his life, he moves on learning, combating and finally succumbs himself to the circumstantial roller-coaster ride of his fate. Right after reading the first few pages, the reader gets absorbed into the book; swept away by the volley of incidents and ballet of emotions surrounding the protagonist's life. The book is enwrapped in a subtle air of autobiography cajoling the reader to visualise, empathise and sympathise with the story narrated. The author brings out the factual realities of the Indian social system; it's reigning corruption, stark naked contrast of rich & poor of the existing society,it's obvious evils and the ways people adopt, to learn living with them. The fact that he is an alien to the land and culture he is writing about accentuates the authenticity of his piece, giving credibility to his observations. Initially one wonders how can a foreigner know so much or see so much in a country he has been inhabiting only for a few years. Linbaba's encounter with people like Prabaker,Karla and Khader takes the story onto an altogether different plane. These three people play an important role in his life, of that of a brother, lover and father; standing by him, deceiving him and even taking adavantage of him respectively. Shantaram despite his bohemian lifestyle is a man with a heart, humaneness, and humility. His ability to survive inspite of all odds, his faith in forgiving people even after undergoing such torture at their hands stands out in the novel and makes him likeable to the readers. Roberts has taken a bold step by portarying a character that absolutely defies the 'infallibility' of a novel's protagonist. He doesn't give us a picture perfect protagonist who is incapable of committing the undesirable or the forbidden acts. Linbaba experiences the extremes of life, committs the most atrocious acts and even suffers the scathing shears of fate like any other mortal. Roberts love for India especially Mumbai and it's people softens the reader's hearts and warms them to his human frailities. Occasional glimpses of the anti-social world jolts and awakens the readers from their narration-induced stupor and brings them back to the reality of life. The book makes for a compelling read and the readers will be left wondering how much of it is true! Write your abstract here.