"It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured."
So begins this epic, mesmerizing first novel by Gregory David Roberts, set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear.
Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay's hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere.
As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums, and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The search leads him to war, prison torture, murder, and a series of enigmatic and bloody betrayals. The keys to unlock the mysteries and intrigues that bind Lin are held by two people. The first is Khader Khan: mafia godfather, criminal-philosopher-saint, and mentor to Lin in the underworld of the Golden City. The second is Karla: elusive, dangerous, and beautiful, whose passions are driven by secrets that torment her and yet give her a terrible power.
Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas---this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and a passionate love for India at its heart. Based on the life of the author, it is by any measure the debut of an extraordinary voice in literature.
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A sequel to SHANTARAM but equally a standalone novel, The Mountain Shadow follows Lin on further adventures in shadowy worlds and cultures. It is a novel about seeking identity, love, meaning, purpose, home, even the secret of life...As the story begins, Lin has found happiness and love, but when he gets a call that a friend is in danger, he has no choice but to go to his aid, even though he knows that leaving this paradise puts everything at risk, including himself and his lover. When he arrives to fulfil his obligation, he enters a room with eight men: each will play a significant role in the story that follows. One will become a friend, one an enemy, one will try to kill Lin, one will be killed by another... Some characters appeared in Shantaram, others are introduced for the first time, including Navida Der, a half-Irish, half-Indian detective, and Edras, a philosopher with fundamental beliefs.
Gregory David Roberts is an extraordinarily gifted writer whose stories are richly rewarding on many levels. Like Shantaram, The Mountain Shadow will be a compelling adventure story with a profound message at its heart.