The Shadow Mountain is Gregory David Roberts‘ much anticipated follow-up to Shantaram, but for me, it fell short of Shantaram in everything but length, if you can imagine that. It picks up on the story where Shantaram left off, so in theory it should be just as captivating, but instead it left me wondering if Shantaram was really all that great. That being said, I still read all 912 pages of it.
Where do I begin? How about our protagonist Shantaram? In this book he seems to vacillate between trying to show us that he is as bad-ass as ever, while also getting bogged down in his obsession with Karla and waxing philosophical intensely for pages on end. I think he wants to be the bad-ass action hero, who can love and is a philosopher at heart. Unfortunately that means we end up with long passages about gangster life in Bombay complete with crazy fight scenes followed by philosophical discourses that go on and on. This is all bracketed by him waxing poetic about life and love at the beginning and end of every chapter.
My other complaint about The Shadow Mountain is that Shantaram seems to have been seduced by the good life. One of the things I loved about Shantaram was how Roberts wrote about life for the downtrodden, whether they were strung out foreigners or Indian slum dwellers. In this book, Roberts cleans everything up. We are dealing mostly with well-off expats living the high life in Bombay with the addition of a Bombay princess. Even our street dwelling druggies come into a crazy inheritance that takes them into the lap of luxury.
Who would like this book? Well, if you loved Shantaram there is a good chance you’re going to read this book regardless of what I say and I would do exactly the same thing. But if you’re not a fan of Shantaram, there is no reason for you to pick up this brick of a book. At this point I don’t even know if I’d recommend Shantaram. I mean, it was good and I liked it, but it was also pretty schlocky at times.