I’ve finally finished the beast of a novel that is Shantaram – I actually finished it a couple of months ago, but haven’t had a chance to write about it. I’ve already blogged about the first half of the book - Shantaram Part 1.
I’m afraid to say that I didn’t enjoy the second half anywhere near as much as the first half. Whilst there were still some great bits – such as the description of cold turkey and the friendship between Lin and Khaled Ansari, there were also other parts which I thought dragged – mainly the section set in Afganistan.
Saying that, however, I’d still rate Shantaram as one of the most well written and captivating stories I’ve ever read. I was utterly devastated by parts (which I won’t divulge as don’t want to spoil it for anyone), and it is rare for me to be moved to tears by a novel. I also genuinely loved some characters (Prabaker and Khaled), but hated others passionately (mainly Karla and Khader). Yet, I can’t decide how I feel about Lin (i.e. Gregory David Roberts). A friend of mine said to me a while back, that whilst she was part way through Shantaram, she found out something about the author that made her hate the rest of the book. I decided that I didn’t want to know until I had finished it, but now that I have, I’m still not sure that I wan’t to know.
Anyway – my favourite quote from the second half is:
“At first, when we truly love someone, our greatest fear is that the loved one will stop loving us. What we should fear and dread, of course, is that we won’t stop loving them, even after they’re dead and gone….”
The quote actually continues a bit further, but I would be giving too much away to put it all in.
All in all, despite its ups and downs, I do think that Shantaram is one of those books that everyone should read. Roberts’ description of life in the slums is so real, beautiful, yet tragic (there are too many words to describe it). So yes – I would recommend it, even if it takes up a good chunk of your life to finish it.