This is not a book, it’s a journey

I don't know what parts of Roberts story are true, and it haunts me

I don’t know what parts of Roberts story are true, and it haunts me

 

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.

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Swallowing Worlds

Reading Midnight's Children is like swallowing a world

Reading Midnight’s Children is like swallowing a world

I’ll come out and say it: I love postcolonial literature. I can’t help myself, and I love magical realism even more.

There is no author that better marries the two than Salmon Rushdie. He is the undisputed champion of magical realism, twisting and contorting your brain into shapes you never thought possible.

I’ll say this as well, I’m an unadulterated fan.

Rushdie has opened the mystical world of India up to me, and given me a love for a place I’ve never been to. His flagship work, Midnight’s Children, is in my top ten list of best books of all time (not to mention I think he is one of, if not THE, greatest living authors).

In his unique story-telling, spiral-twirling style, Rushdie conveys the independence of India from British Colonialism through the lives of the Midnight Children, magical babies born at the stroke of midnight on the day of India’s independence. The story is told through the life and eyes of changling Saleem Sinai, who spends the majority of the story literally cracking and falling apart in his curry-jar factory (that is what magical realism asks of you).

The tale interweaves magical realism with historical events, giving a new perspective on the history of India’s independence, and what it means today. It is hilarious and profound in turns, so enjoyable you won’t notice how thick it is.

Best paired with the spicy boutique red wines of Rusticus in Robertson. These wines are handcrafted, luscious and spicy, just like Midnights Children.

The latest movie version, produced in collaboration with Rushdie himself, should be hitting South African screens shortly (featuring the hot Indian guy from the New Girl, whoop whoop).