Alright my first completed book of the year is Shantaram, by Gregory David. I had recently joined a book club in San Diego to meet some people, so this was the selection. I enjoyed this story, as it was interesting and I kept picking up the book when I had some down time. I really wanted to hear what else happened. There were definitely portions of the novel that I did get bored with, or was just lost in the meandering philosophies of some of the characters, but overall I thought it was a decent read.
Let me give you a brief summary. This is a story about an Australian man who escapes from prison and flees to Bombay, India. The novel opens once he is in Bombay and the craziness that happens to him and around him while living there. He lives in the slums at one point, becomes the slum doctor, he falls in love, joins the Bombay mafia, is a gunrunner to the war in Afghanistan, thrown in the Bombay prison and basically tortured for months....yeah the list goes on and on.
My real issue with the book was that I did not care for the main character, Lin or "Shataram" as he is eventually called. He was just not someone I could sympathize with. He put himself into all these terrible situations, was a cleaned up addict on one hand, but an escaped convict who seemed to me like he was almost trying very hard to get caught again with all the shenanigans he got involved in. Perhaps it was just that he was used to this life of crime that had put him in jail, that it just seemed like the only thing he could do with his life.
Can I just tell you the best part though, of this whole ridiculous story, this book is based on true events of the author! I mean its so far fetched at parts, that I just can't imagine this all happening to one man. The character also always seemed to be blindly following the people he cared about, he was a man of action first, the reasoning behind it to be an afterthought, if a thought at all. Maybe that was another thing that bothered me, as I need reasons or justifications for my actions, and this guy didn't need someone to tell him the why, he just would jump to do what they needed.
I would say 3.5 out of 5 stars, if I had to rate it. I was intrigued to read more, but the end of the novel also left me rather frustrated.