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Gregory David Robert's epic tale "Shantaram" is a sweeping story set in Bombay. While parts of the tale are based on the author's life this work of fiction feels more like an action packed autobiography given the rich details lavished upon on the city and all of the primary characters within. After an audacious prison escape the main character flees to Bombay in hopes of avoiding escape. Through a fortunate series of events the main character soon finds himself in the employ of the mafia and associating with an eclectic group of friends. Along the way he experiences all aspects of Indian culture from rural, slum, and well-to-do city life. A nagging conscious contributes to him running a health clinic in the slum, while also learning new languages, and struggling with love.

At over 925 pages the scope and expanse of the story is hard to summarize. The writing is clean and approachable. Throughout the book the author has many discussions about philosophy and science as it relates to the meaning and purpose of life. The author calls this type of discussion cosmosophy, although I don't recall that term being used in the book itself. Ignoring that tangent the story itself is a joy a read and while at times it felt like the events could have really happened to the author, the improbable number of fortunate coincidences found in the book give away any credibility that thought may have had.

Tags: bombay books