Slaying the Dragon: Shantaram


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Okay, so a the metaphor’s not perfect. But still, there’s something about closing a 900+ page novel that feels, for lazy people like me, the way people who climb mountains must feel. Or maybe I’m full of shit: I’ve never climbed a mountain.

Anyway, back to the point. Shantaram was one hell of a ride, and I have to say I enjoyed every second of it. That’s pretty bloody rare: we’re talking Harry Potter and Johnathan Strange rare. Even Rushdie’s monsters really start to feel like monsters after awhile, and don’t get me started about epic fantasy. Actually, epic fantasists could learn a thing or two from Shantaram…

But Shantaram was a joy every step of the way. As with most novels, the end did not live up to the beginning, everything did not tie into a neat bow. And that’s okay, because life doesn’t tie up in a neat bow, and in the end, Shantaram is about one man’s experience of being alive.

Each individual experience of life is simultaneously mundane and extraordinary, but some of us emphasize the extraordinary. Being an escaped prisoner, Shantaram’s protagonist never fails to understand the extraordinary nature of the mundane. And that makes novel magic.


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