Tuesday, 18 March 2008
The best book I've read this Century - SHANTARAM
I was a revolutionary who lost his ideals in heroin, a philosopher who lost his integrity in crime, and a poet who lost his soul in a maximum security prison.”
When a book starts like that, you can’t help being intrigued. Shantaram of David Gregory Roberts grabbed my interest the moment I picked it up. I had just returned form a 3 week holiday in India 14 days ago and I had India on my brain. Reading this book etched India firmly in my heart. His quote about the Indian heart explains it all.
“That’s how we keep this crazy place together - with the heart…. India is the heart. It’s the heart that keeps us together. There’s no place with people, like my people, Lin. There’s no heart like the INDIAN HEART.”
This is one book that I never wanted to end, but it ended last night but for me it was a beginning, a beginning of savouring the quotes from the greatest writer of this centurty. Prove me wrong ?
To me, Shantaram serves as a deeply enriching and engaging testament to the indestructible nature of human spirit.
It describes the experiences of an Australian prisoner, who makes his lucky escape to India, and has his share of queer experiences like living in Slums, in Arthur Road Prison, Afghanisthan. Shantaram brings out the humane side of the Lin who couldn’t help but fall in love with innocence of people and led his life in abandon savoring each and every tide of life in his own stride. As his life entwined with engaging characters like Prabhakar, Karla, Didler, Abdullah, Khaderbhai, Qasim Ali, his journey delectably brings out the perseverance of human character against all odds, and his pathological optimism in humanity.
Of all the characters, Prabakar,Khaderbai and Karla are stuck in my heart and mind forever. I would love to have them as Father, son and lover, in that order. Karla totally captivated me with her charm, daring and femininity. As books on India go, it ranks slightly ahead of The Chamber of Perfumes and A Nation of Fools: two great books on India written about the same time as Shantarama.