Shantaram

  • by Gregory David Roberts
  • Narrated by Humphrey Bower
  • 42 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In a spectacular 43 hours of storytelling, Gregory David Roberts and narrator Humphrey Bower take listeners on a rollercoaster of a journey through the streets and slums of India. Vivid and lyrical, some have gone so far as to call Shantaram a literary masterpiece.
A novel of high adventure, great storytelling and moral purpose, based on an extraordinary true story of eight years in the Bombay underworld.
In the early 80s, Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin addict, escaped from an Australian prison to India, where he lived in a Bombay slum. There, he established a free health clinic and also joined the mafia, working as a money launderer, forger and street soldier. He found time to learn Hindi and Marathi, fall in love, and spend time being worked over in an Indian jail. Then, in case anyone thought he was slacking, he acted in Bollywood and fought with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan...
Amazingly, Roberts wrote Shantaram three times after prison guards trashed the first two versions. It's a profound tribute to his willpower...

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What the Critics Say

"A publishing phenomenon." (Sunday Times)
"Extraordinary vivid...a gigantic, jaw-dropping, grittily authentic saga." (Daily Mail)
"Powerful and original...a remarkable achievement." (Sunday Telegraph)
"Vivid and compassionate...impressive." (Guardian)
"At once a high-kicking, eye-gouging adventure, a love saga and a savage yet tenderly lyrical fugitive vision." (Time Out)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An incredible piece of art (written & narrated)

I had read Shantaram in 2009 whilst travelling through India and loved the story so much that I recomended this book to all my friends and family. I wanted to read the book again but decided to listen to the audio version instead. I was concerned that i might not enjoy the experience as much and probably end up dissapointed as when you see a bad film version of a book you have loved and enjoyed so much. To my delight i was hooked right from the start. What an incredible performance by the narrator Humphrey Bower! It has been an amazing experience. Thank you for putting your heart and soul in this beautifully written book.
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- PBM

Enjoy the Ride!

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

To a friend used to the kinds of beautifully-crafted prose that might be expected in a typical work of literary fiction, and for whom the quality of the writing itself is important I would suggest they think twice before starting this book. As other reviewers have said, it contains a good deal of pompous, purple, cliche-ridden and dubious writing and is the worse for it. However to a friend who loves an adventure novel, a travel book and a ripping yarn, I would heartily recommend. The cast of characters is cliched, many of them horribly stereotyped, thin and poorly drawn, the first-person narrator comes across as a narcissistic twit and I'm astonished these problems with the book were not better addressed at editing stage. By contrast the characters of Bombay, of Pakistan and Afghanistan, of the bars and chai shops and streets and slums are deliciously, sensuously described and are the real stars of this huge great show of a novel. What Gregory David Roberts lacks in creating believable, sympathetic characters he more than makes up for in writing a romping good story, full of exquisite descriptive detail, brilliant highs and desperate, heart rending lows. Humphrey Bower's handling of the many voices, accents and dialects in this novel, and the range of feeling he communicates is a joy to listen to. I was close to giving up on the book after the first few chapters because the writing was annoying me so much. How grateful I am to have persevered; to have stopped judging the book by its faults, and to simply enjoy it for the rollicking good ride that it is.


Have you listened to any of Humphrey Bower’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I hadn't come across Humphrey Bower before but will now be seeking out more of his work: the reading was first-class.


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- HappyLuckyAlix

Book Details

  • Release Date: 26-06-2014
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio UK