I’ll come clean with you, I didn’t like Shantaram for the first 300 pages of the book. I felt like the author was trying to be too wordy a lot of the time, and his endless unnecessary philosophical discussions irritated me more than intrigued me. But then something happened. I’m not sure what exactly, but I managed to not only complete the 900 page tome, but to also fall in love with it.
Shantaram (which means “man of peace” in Maharathi) is a journey of souls. Author Gregory David Roberts has adamantly stated that the book is only based on parts of his life, and that none of the characters are real (though many suspect that Prabaker, the irascible taxi driver, was a real person) but really the book is an artful work of faction (fact and fiction combined). Some of the experiences common to humans are described so accurately and acutely, that I can’t help but suspect those parts of the story are real, especially when dealing with the subjects of death and love.
What is true is that Gregory did escape an Australian prison, he was a junkie, and he did live in an Indian slum in what was Bombay for many years. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but it is a like a very long love-letter to India. And although it irritated me at first, Gregory’s way with words, the way he can turn a phrase to describe something, is like seeing your hearts’ thoughts on the page in front of you.
It can be a tough and gory read sometimes, but it is nothing short of a modern-day epic. I drank the unforgettable Springfield Estate Whole Berry Cab Sav while reading Shantaram. This wine is hand-crafted using traditional methods, without machines and you can really taste the difference in the fruity palate.