Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Shantaram - An Indian tale

I remember with pleasure the summer break. Far away from the school. A little less the homework. Saved for the last 10 days of holidays. I remember about book reading assignment. Two, three or four books to be chosen from a list of classics. Normally the criterium of choice was just the number of pages! During those days to read a 200 pages book seemed almost impossible.

After some years I have luckily grown a true passion for books. Now the choice is a little bit more serious and based on the argument of the book. But again, for some strange reason, I'm a little bit scared by bigger books. To start the reading of over 300 pages volume I still need to be really excited by a review or by its introduction. If the excitement is not sufficiently high I prefer to swap it with a lighter, at least from a physical point of view, one.

It could be a little strange but I have decided anyway to read Shantaram a 1.200 pages story about the true experience of the author. Just to hold the book could be difficult. But as long as you read the very first rows you understand that this is a jewel. This book is about a big part of the (real) life of the author: Gregory David Roberts. The story is mainly based in India. And probably this is the reason of that kind of magic that characterizes any page of the book.

The book starts with the arrival of Greg in Bombay, India. Here he tries to restart his life from scratch. Trough many experiences, also very hard ones, Greg learns again to love himself. And the others too. He will become many person: a tourist, a doctor in a slum, an actor for Bollywood, a member of the local Mafia, a criminal and finally the defender of the weak. In this extraordinary trip Greg learns how to be an Indian. He learns to love Indian people. But more than all he teaches to the reader to like this unique and full of contrast country.

Shantaram. The size of the book could be scarring. But to read it is really easy. G.D. Roberts has been able to drive deep emotions along with his writing. The passion is deeply present in any page. It's not a case if Johnny Depp, one of the most intelligent actors from Hollywood, has bought the rights to produce a movie. It's not a case if the direction of it has been given to Mira Nair, an Indian director. No one else could describe better the magic about India, its people and the amazing story of G.D. Roberts, named Shantaram, man of peace, by his own Indian friends.

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