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June 12, 2019

The book Shantaram is from 2003.  I read it recently, after seeing it in the bargain section of a local bookstore.  I almost bought it then, but decided to get another book.  Shortly afterwards, I noticed it in a little free library on my street.  I couldn’t resist.  The book was written by Gregory David Roberts, who grew up in Australia, but now lives in Bombay, India.

The first thing people will notice about Shantaram is its size: it’s over 900 pages long.  Some people will reject it for that reason.  Those who are used to reading long novels will persist.  I’d say that it’s worth reading.  Charles Dickens, for example, wrote some long novels.  David Copperfield is one of them.  I’ve read all of Dickens’ novels.

Shantaram is described as a novel.  It’s also partly autobiographical.  I can’t tell where the true story leaves off and the fiction begins.  Parts of it are certainly fictional.

In the story, the protagonist loves people immediately, but eventually grows disappointed in some of them.  This behavior happens many times as the story progresses.  People are only human, after all.  It’s really a story of discovery, both about himself and about other people.

Scientific principles are mentioned several times in the book.  Some of it is wrong.  Philosophy of life is really the heart of the book.  Some of it may also be wrong, but I can’t tell.  Should we even expect to obtain accurate information from a work of fiction?

It is a good story, well worth reading.  One curious thing I noticed was that it did not employ flashbacks.  Instead, one of the characters will describe past events in conversation with another character.  It’s a gripping adventure story, well worth reading.


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