Monday, November 21, 2005


Every spare moment over the past few days has been devoted to reading, devouring rather, Shantaram. I'm quite simply stupefied - by the book, by the man, by the things he goes through and endures, by his writing and thinking prowess, by his resilience, by the ability of a human being to put one step after the next by sheer will.

How can one man withstand all that? And then write about it with such love, compassion, empathy and understanding of the human condition?


The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

Is that why you've been away from your blog for so many days?

I've heard much about the book and it's definiely on my winter book list! Looking forward to yuor review on it soon!

Sourin Rao said...

Resurfaced after a long time. I have made several unsuccessful attempts to start Shantaram. Somehow dont find enough time, but seems like a promising book. I find myself comparing it to Maximum City, the ultimate Bombay book, IMHO.

Sujatha Bagal said...

SF, that's part of the reason. Other parts are that we are looking for a new school for N, and I had to do some research for my radio programs etc.

I'd love to know what you think of the book. A movie is scheduled to be released sometime in 2005 (with Johnny Depp, no less!). Can't wait for that.

Sourin, I haven't read Maximum City, but am planning to, as soon as it comes out in paperback. So I cannot really compare the two in terms of merit. But Shantaram is a first person account, whereas MC is more like a journalistic account, I think. And I simply loved the writing style in Shantaram. Very easy, lucid, in places almost poetic. What a talent!

Vikrum said...

Hi Sujatha... writing from Guwahati...

Shantaram is a fantastic book. I really enjoyed it and related to some of the author's experiences (e.g. learning Hindi, working in the slums, being a foreigner yet being Indian). It's a long read, but finish it. Tell me what you think of the ending when yuo're done.

karrvakarela said...

Hi Sujatha,

I haven't read Shantaram but those who have invariably have something good to say about it. I saw the writer in an interview on Hardtalk and he seemed like an interesting man. He's certainly led an interesting life!

I have read Maximum City though and while it's really well-written and difficult to put down, I find it, in retrospect, a bit glib and superficial. I'm not a Mumbaikar so I can't comment on the authenticity of his writing - maybe Sourin can help me out here - but there were parts that I found unreal and disengaging.

Incidentally, there's something I've been meaning to ask some of the Indian bloggers. I ran into a copy of VS Naipaul's An Area of Darkness in a bookshop over the weekend. Incredibly well-written, as Naipaul's books usually are, but bleak and typically bilious. What I was interested in discussing though was how the India described in the book, the India of the 60's, compares to India today. How do Indian readers feel about the book and the verities of Naipaul's observations? And how have the attitudes and perceptions described in the book evolved since the book was written?

remainconnected said...

This is Tanay from Bangalore and I am a technical solution architect with Oracle Corp. When I have time during my work time at office, I read your blogs.
Visit my blogs at

Anshul said...

I have not heard or read Shantaram. Will definitely check out.


Minal said...

Hi sujatha,
That's the next book in queue after I'm done with the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer. I've just begun it and I'm getting the feeling that this book is everything you got to read if you want to learn all about Hitler and Nazis and why they did what they did. Pretty comprehensive. 1000 pages and in the finest print you could get!

Sujatha Bagal said...


Thanks for your comment. I envy the fact that you can draw some parallels with his life.:))

For those who haven't read the book -


Although the book is classified as literary fiction, in my reading of the book I approached it as a true account of the events in his life without trying to parse the facts and trying to figure out what is true and what is fiction. Given that, I am happy with the ending the way it is, because that is the way it happened.

If I had it my way, however, I would have him leave the mafia, not go to Sri Lanka (which I thought he was leaning toward so he could settle a debt to Naseer and Khader, rather than go to Delhi with Karla), settle down with the woman he loved (preferably Lisa), and enjoy a peaceful life! But me, I'm a naturally risk averse person, which I think is one of the reasons I enjoyed the book so much - vicarious pleasure and all that.

Of course his story doesn't end there. I'm sure you know that he moved on to Germany, got caught there, was imprisoned a few times (and once heard a fellow inmate commit suicide - he slit his throat and then screamed that he'd done it. The other prisoners screamed themselves hoarse for the guards, but no one came and he died) etc.

So right now, I'm just waiting for his next instalment to arrive. The story is not finished.

Was there something specific in the ending that caught your attention? What are your thoughts on it?

Hi MG: It is nice to be back! Thanks! Maximum City is definitely on my list, though it has an incredibly tough standard to live up to in my mind!

Hi KK: Thanks for your comment. I haven't read that Naipaul book, but it is an interesting question you pose. I think I'll do a quick post on it.

Hi Tanay: Welcome to my blog. Thanks for reading. I'll definitely hop over to your blog.

Anshul, thanks for your comment. Let me know what you think when you've read it.

Hi Minal, it's been sitting on my shelf for so long. May be it's time to dust it off again!

Anonymous said...

hey can anyone tell me about the deaths of Abdullah & prabhaker & all those who died in Shantaram?

i borrowed the book from my friend but the book happened to be a pirated version & to my amazement,while i was reading with utmost interest, found out few pages missing & from where i continued, i realised that a couple of people were dead.


dein said...

wow... if only i can go to prague... the picture look fantastic..:-)