Five books to fill the time between now and The Mountain Shadow
It’s not long until The Mountain Shadow, the sequel to Shantaram, is published. You’ve been waiting ten years since the first book’s publication, what’s another six months? It’s nothing. You can wait six months standing on your head although, for medical reasons, we don’t recommend that you do. It could cause all sorts of trouble, your body hasn’t evolved to survive upside-down for prolonged periods.
To help you pass time until you can read The Mountain Shadow, we’ve put together a list of books you may enjoy. Similar but different to Shantaram, something to keep you in the right frame of mind until October. Tales of jailbreak, self-discovery and journeys to the East, all in our recommendations below.
If I’ve learnt anything from bookselling it’s that escaping from prison and then writing about it is a surefire way to have a bestseller. If I’ve learnt anything from reading the subsequent bestsellers, it’s that I probably wouldn’t thrive in a prison environment. Henri Charriere’s true story about life in various French penal colonies is fascinating and, at the same time, makes me glad that I’ll never get the chance to write a bestseller about my internment.
With at least a third of the original Twilight Zone episodes teaching us that ‘man is the enemy’, you’d think we’d have learnt the lesson by now. And yet, time and time again, we always think that we’re capable of building a utopia somewhere. The Beach sees another perfect society discovered and its inevitable destruction at the hands of those who created it. A journey of spiritual self-discovery that doesn't end quite as well as that found in Shantaram. As always, there’s plenty of lessons along the way, the main one being ‘don’t watch the film version, it’s not very good’.
The winner of the 1997 Man Booker Prize, Arundhati Roy is about life in modern India. While Shantaram stays mostly within the city of Mumbai, The God of Small Things focuses its attention on a rural family and the journey of two children growing up in a complicated country.
There was a brief period where you couldn’t look at a bestseller list without seeing a book by an ex-criminal about their legally questionable life. Howard Marks was an Oxford Graduate who became one of the world’s most prolific marijuana smugglers. He didn’t escape prison and discover a spiritual existence in Mumbai but his time in prison and how he ended up there is no less fascinating for it. Besides, if he had escaped prison and fled to India he might have written Shantaram, which you’ve already read.
William Dalrymple is one of the finest travel writers and Nine Lives is one of his best. He interviews a diverse cross section of people and paints a vivid, in-depth look at religion and its place in modern day India. The ways in which traditions some traditions have changed over time and the people that continue them through the decades. Dalrymple’s understanding of India is truly impressive and a great step for anyone wanting to know more about the cultural aspects touched upon in Shantaram.