Monday 13 June 2011

Shantaram Readalong - Part 1

This readalong is actually split up weekly unlike The Iliad which was fortnightly. It's 100 pages each week and since the book is over 900 pages it's going to take a while. I just finished the second part so I am now 200 pages into it. I am also reading this book as part of the 'Books I should Have Read' challenge. It's been sitting on my shelf collecting dust for a couple of years now so it's about time I picked it up.

It's because of reading this book at the same time that I didn't like A Fine Balance quite as much as what I probably would have. It's set in India only five years later (or in the middle of the time of A Fine Balance since it one jumped ten years near the end). It's written in the eyes of someone who is visiting the country and the city of Bombay (also where Fine Balance is set) for the first time. Since I have never been there I guess I can relate to it more. Maybe relate is the wrong word since I haven't had to escape from prison. I certainly felt as though I could see the city through the eyes of the narrator better.

I'm not sure what I was expecting this book to be like. I seem to have a nack for avoiding any mentions of books that are on my tbr pile and therefore discover for myself exactly why a book is so popular. I am also lucky that the few people I know who have read it have only said that they loved it and not let anything else out. My only expectations of it were what it said on the jacket on the back. What I got was a beautifully descriptive narrative. Some people might consider it over descriptive but for me it's perfect. Funny though since I think this book is more descriptive that A Fine Balance and yet I thought that one could have been cut down quite a bit.

What I am really loving about the book is one particular character. Prabaker who is guiding the narrator through the city. I was a little wary of him at first since Lin met him straight off the bus but I quickly grew to trust him as Lin did. The unlikely friendship has led to quite a few funny moments. I have even started placing little post it tabs on the pages that have made me laugh so much. Prabakers reaction to the way Lin does things or wants to do things is hilarious. Plus Prabakers way of doing things is just as alien to Lin (and to myself mind you) and has resulted in a few sarcastic comments from Lin. I am one of those people who do like sarcastic wit at times (I think it's a big part of Scottish humour) but this isn't what makes these moments so funny. It's Prabakers reaction to it. He either doesn't get sarcasm or he deliberately ignores it. I personally think he it's the second but I could be wrong. Sometimes his answers do seem too innocent.

Needless to say I am very much enjoying this book and I think I have reached the stage where it is going to pick up a little speed. Despite the weekly break up of the readalong I'm not going to update that regularly or schedule them. I think with 9 weeks of reading everyone who isn't on the readalong would quickly get bored of seeing these updates. Instead I am going to post when I feel I really need to talk about the book in detail. Meanwhile I have the group on good reads to update on.

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