So I finished Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts and also a book by Shashi Tharoor called “Bookless in Baghdad”. I will review them both here one by one.
1. SHANTARAM : As you must be knowing , it is an autobiographical fictional book by Gregory D. Roberts. He is a former australian convict who escaped imprisonment and came to Bombay. There he stayed for about 10 years while living in slums, village and working for the underworld there. He also got involved in smuggling and a war in Afghanistan. He also went to prison for a while in between, forged passports and dealt in drugs. And finally, he was caught again and sent to a jail in australia. This man has been a writer in the life before the heroin addiction and armed robberies came to him. Now, he is a writer again and what a fine one at that. For a person living in circumstances far removed from being conducive for the growth of a writer, he has managed pretty well to chronicle his life and experiences in a splendid way. He has lived 10 lives in one. He has been countless persons while being one person. One is awed by the sheer incredulity of situations that he faced. One is tickled by the weird and funny incidents that came his way. One is horrified by the circumstances he has lived in and in which other people continue to live today also. One is terrified by the people who surrounded him . But what is most important is that one feels hope, one gets strength and one gets the conviction that it is possible to straighten things out in the end. The message that seeps in is that whatever be the odds, end can be bettered.
The book is fantastically descriptive. You have no problem in imagining the characters and the situations. The book is thick too and yet when you finish it, you yearn for more. It is a thriller which keeps you at the edge of you seat. You are bound to say: Really? He did that! He lived like that! He is still alive. ..etc etc . The book is a must read for people who find adventures interesting. There is a lot of philosophy too. You are at times hearing the conversations about big bang, complexity, universe, existence and that too between whom you wonder..between two chiefs of the underworld. They talk about good and evil at one minute and go murder a person or forge a passport the next moment. Its sometimes hilarious and sometimes gut wrenching. Sometimes it feels like a deep philosophical message and at other times like a farce, a hypocrisy. But whatever, it is a truly engaging book. one should read it just to know that what are the possibilities in the world that exist.
2. BOOKLESS IN BAGHDAD : This is a book by Shashi Tharoor who is the Under Secretary General of the UN and was in the race of becoming the Secretary General. He is a well educated man, in truest sense representing the global elites of India. As he himself says, he was hooked to books since very small age. No wonder, he has read all sorts of works by almost all kind of authors. He himself has published around 9 books. That much for the man.
As for the book, it is mainly a collection of his essays on literary topics ranging from authors to reviewers to his favorite books to the poets he loves. Interesting and insightful. Not a very interesting read for all I would say. Only those who like Tharoor and are well read would find something of interest here. There is a lot of mention about Salman Rushdie. Now, he is a truly intriguing and interesting topic altogether to deserve a separate post which he shall get but later.
Till then you can get the info about these two books at wiki :