KATHMANDU, Oct 10: Poonam Maharjan is pursuing her Masters in English Literature from Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campus, Tribhuvan University, in Kathmandu.
She started reading as a teen with abridged versions of Shakespeare’s classics, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, Moby Dick, and then eventually moved on to devouring every possible Mills & Boons fiction.
“I love reading for pure pleasure. And having to read something for study purpose simply takes away all the charm from an otherwise brilliant book,” she says.
Here she talks about her experience of reading ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts.
How different was the book from what you expected?
I had heard a lot about ‘Shantaram’ from my friends. I took a sneak peek and the synopsis on the back cover was enough to compel me to include it in my want-to-read list. I savored it word by word, page by page and – whoa! – what a treat it was! Actually it beat my expectations and offered me so much more. The synopsis precisely lists all of the extraordinary things that Gregory did while in Mumbai, and the book narrates everything in detail. No wonder the book is 933 pages long.
Which character made the most impact on you?
Prabaker, the local Mumbai guide whom Gregory first hires as a guide but soon becomes his best friend. It is also Prabaker’s mother who gives Gregory his Marathi name, Shantaram. Prabaker is one hell of a happy person and the brightness of his persona reflects right through in the book. Despite dwelling in the slums and having his own sets of problems, Prabaker is highly dignified and not once faltering.
How did you find the way Roberts has introduced the characters and executed the plot?
It’s an effortless reading, full of intelligent and witty lines, and unforgettable quotes, often philosophical in nature. With vivid descriptions of the events from his past, ‘Shantaram’ has a feel of autobiography but is actually a novel based on facts with characters and events intelligently constructed. While drawing in events from the past, Roberts also drops a hint here and there as to what is going to happen later, making us readers all the more eager and curious, and sometimes anxious, to unravel the mystery and adventure it promises. Shantaram is a bit lengthy of course, but once you start reading it, you get so immersed that you can’t help but read it in large chunks. The sequel to Shantaram is scheduled for March 2013. I can’t wait!