Part travelogue, part love letter, part autobiography, Shantaram is a vivid, entertaining but slightly grandiose tale of Lin, an ex-junkie and convicted robber who escapes from an Australian prison then hides in the most alien of places: the hot, filthy, decadent, seaside metropolis of Bombay.
Shantaram is no wide-eyed backpacker’s Lonely Planet travel guide. Instead, it could double as a guidebook for a fugitive who needs to disappear, counterfeit passport in hand.
Or it could just be a fun read for someone committed enough to stay with this lengthy, impossibly heavy book.
Lin is introduced as he steps off a plane with a new identity. Only the punishing Bombay heat is there to greet him. He is instantly intrigued by the city just as it is by him. He is gawked at by locals for being a gora (white), and he can’t get enough of the never-ending cacophony of the city’s life pulse.
Prabaker, an energetic and sometimes irritating city guide, is the first to greet the newly free runaway. He also is one of the book’s most innocent and refreshing characters. It is on one of his city tours