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Shantaram, the alternative review!

I am currently reading Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. The book is extremely popular here (Oxford and most of UK), and I noticed that it even featured in Rang De Basanti. However, just visiting its Amazon link, I came across a few negative reviews. This one, caught my eye, and I have to say, for lovers and haters of the book alike, this serves a good parody, if not purpose:

Here is a link to it, and I rather you click it, though I have, of course, copy pasted the content:

The comments below appreciate him, and if you enjoyed his review, I urge you to comment there as well!

220 of 257 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful13 Jan 2009
This review is from: Shantaram (Paperback)

The cover blurb looked interesting. The opening pages, describing the author’s arrival in Bombay, were good. I’m going to enjoy this, I thought.

How wrong can you be.

This is an awful book. Awful.

My top four moans are:
– The way ALL the characters constantly speak in sub-Wildean aphorisms. Ever heard of tone of voice?
– The constant and cringeworthy GCSE-grade philosophy that we’re meant to think is profound.
– The embarassingly florid prose that litters every page, and especially any passages involving Karla.
– The author’s relentlessly inflated opinion of himself. Every other page we’re meant to be in awe of the fact he learnt some of the local languages, and is therefore the most amazing Westerner to have ever visited India. Ever. (And every Indian thinks so too, of course.) As another reviewer said wearily: Everybody loves Lin. Simple villagers love him, slum dwellers love him, beautiful ex-prostitutes love him, gangsters love him, Afghani drug lords love him, taxi drivers always love him at a glance and so on and so forth. As a character, he’s just unbelievable. And that’s without getting into the fact he’s absolutely The Best at Everything – from fighting to lovemaking, medicine to philosophy.

It soon became apparent that this book is shamelessly aimed at a certain kind of buyer: the upper middle class 18 year old on their ‘gap’ year, who thinks that smoking a few joints in Goa qualifies as discovering the real India and you just have to read this book man, it’s like the real India and like sooo deep and profound and if like everyone read it the world’s problems would be solved dude…

I invite all future reviewers to start contributing their own Shataram efforts. To get the ball rolling, here’s mine…

“That’s not a review of the book, it’s a book of the review,” stated Karla, as the stars of Bombay’s glittering sky danced in her eyes like a thousand diamonds.

“You’re just trying to be clever,” drawled Didier, waving the Café Leopold waiter over for his 437th whisky of the last 3 minutes. “Whilst I, my dear, am clever to be trying.”

Had I realised it then, the rest of my life could have been different. But then I’d spent the last 750 pages failing to spot the obvious, and constantly saying that I was failing to spot the obvious, until the reader died of boredom. Such is life. We wait for what we expect, and then fail to be surprised. God I’m profound. In Hindi. Of course.

“Indeed,” opined Khaled, as he exhaled the chillum. The wisdom of a million camels reflected in his beard like cascading streams of gibberish, and I trusted him even more as he gently wafted a warrant for my arrest for crimes against literature across the fragrant Bombay night. “It is not the crime you should trust in a man, but the time you crust that matters in a man.”

“You’re just repeating the same over-contrived sentence structure over and over,” gasped Karla, as she floated above the Taj Mahal with the passion of my lovemaking.

With an enigmatic shudder of her arching and elegant nostril, Karla left me once more, the way a fragile lotus flower floats downstream in the monsoon.

I walked back to the slum alone, up to my waist in filth, but I didn’t care, for I was hard. A rampaging lion threatened to kill two small Indian children, until I flicked it off them with my little finger. After all, it isn’t the lion that kills us, it’s the lying. God, that’s clever. “You’re incredible isn’t it,” waggled the Indians.

Yes. But lonely. For isn’t that our ultimate lot in life? It was a question I could undoubtedly spend another 1000 pages dribbling sub sixth form poetry over. In fact, I could even smell a sequel coming, there in the night air of Bombay. And it smelt like ****.

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3 thoughts on “Shantaram, the alternative review!

  1. This review brought me so much joy. I finally started this book after years of it chasing me around hostels. I thought surely it must be a sign! I began reading it again a few days thinking now is the time for my world to be forever changed! … A few pages in I realize the protagonist is a white male. Oh, it’s been left in every hostel across the globe and exalted from the rooftops by young white males who are just embracing the bloom of their white savior complex.
    I couldn’t make it past his initial meet with Karla. I’m searching for reviews now to spur me on, tell me I must read more! But this reviewer, well. Seems like they’re saving me hundreds of pages of annoyance.

  2. Finally, finally someone who says this! How can it be that the critics called this a masterpiece? The readers….never mind, but how can anyone not see through this absolute garbage of a book, written by a sly incompetent writer, who used the fascination of India (I can‘t think of any other appeal in this story) to build a most ridiculous self-praising story.
    Someone must have told him that in order to be a good writer you have to throw in a metaphor every 10 words…
    It gets really bad when the character Karla is there. „…her large green eyes- the green of lagoons, where shallow water laps at golden sand- …. Her lips were like soft ridges of dunes in the desert at sunset; like the crests of waves meeting in the frothy rush to shore; like the folded wings of courting birds. The movements of her body…were like storm-wind stirring in a stand of young willow trees“. Oh boy…‍♀️ was one metaphor not enough?
    „Nothing in the world is so soft and pleasing to the touch as the skin of a woman‘s thigh. No flower, feather, or fabric can match that velvet whisper of flesh. No matter how unequal they may be in other ways, all women, old and young, fat and thin, beautiful and ugly, have that perfection. It’s a great part of the reason why men hunger to possess women, and so often convince themselves that they do possess them: the thigh, that touch“.
    WHAT is he on about?!?!
    The characters are horribly stereotyped (the Italian wearing sunglasses at night, the gay French, the German prostitute), the dialogues are nonesense. He‘s an absolute superhero…no matter how big is his opponent in the many fights he has, he always always wins.
    The success of this book is a MASS DECEPTION!

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