The Picador Countdown: Number 2


Gregory David Roberts

Picador’s bestsellers; number 2.Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts.

Where to start in writing about this extraordinary Australian novel which has received rave reviews around the world? Perhaps with the remarkable author.

Gregory David Roberts was born in Melbourne. Highly educated and successful his life fell apart and he turned to drugs. Sentenced to 19 years in prison for a series of armed robberies he escaped and spent 8 of his fugitive years in Bombay. While there he created a free medical clinic for slum-dwellers and worked as a counterfeiter, smuggler, gunrunner and street soldier for a branch of the Bombay mafia. Recaptured he served out his sentence and established a successful multimedia company upon his release. Roberts is now a full-time writer and lives in Bombay where he has established a charitable trust to care for slum-dwellers.

The novel itself is significantly influenced by events in the author’s life. At 932 pages it is a big book but more importantly it is a big book in every other sense, a sprawling intelligent novel full of colour and amazing characters

.Author Pat Conroy commented, ‘A novel of the first order, a work of extraordinary art, a thing of exceptional beauty’.

The reviewer for The Australian Bookseller wrote, ‘With the grand sweep and scale of a Bollywood movie……this is a rip-roaring read…..Full of jail-house philosophy, human frailty and resilience, Sufi wisdom and street-fighting tactics, ‘Shantaram’  is by turns inspiring, hair-raising and poignant’.

No wonder this book has sold and sold and sold as people read it and then tell their friends about it!

P.S. Like to comment on this blog? Your comment could win you a Brays Books Voucher – see earlier blog!

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Independent booksellers since 1969.
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