Gregory’s Shantaram One of my all-time favorite books is David Roberts. Lin, an Australian who escaped prison and fled to Bombay (present-day Mumbai), India, begins a new life there. As he develops friendships with people from all walks of life in Bombay, including those who live in the slums and those involved in the mafia, the book delves deeply into Indian culture. In spite of the fact that Shantaram is a work of fiction, it is based on numerous real-life events and is undoubtedly one of the most popular books for tourists to India.
When it comes to finding other books like Shantaram, Roberts’ philosophical writing style can make it difficult. I’ve been searching for more books like Shantaram ever since I finished reading this one for the first time – here are ten great reads that share similar themes.
Books Like Shantaram
The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts
It’s always best to start with books written by the same author when looking for more recent favorites! Gregory David Roberts’ long-awaited sequel to Shantaram, The Mountain Shadow, begins two years after the end of the previous novel.
The Mountain Shadow, which I’m not going to spoil here, follows Lin as he adjusts to life in post-Shantaram Bombay. Shantaram is an excellent place to start if you’re looking for more books with Roberts’ philosophical writing style and masterful storytelling ability. I agree with those who say the sequel isn’t as good as the first book, but I found it to be a must-read for Shantaram fans.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini by Khaled Hosseini (or any other books like it) is a great choice if you like Shantaram’s writing style.
Throughout the last century, the events in Afghanistan intertwine the lives of two women whose stories are chronicled in the book. The story follows these two women for decades. In many ways, Hosseini’s philosophical approach to this novel is similar to that of Shantaram, which is one of my other favorite books by him.
Marching Powder by Rusty Young & Thomas McFadden
In India, Shantaram is a popular choice for backpackers, but in South America, Marching Powder by Rusty Young and Thomas McFadden is also a popular choice.
This is a true story about a man named Thomas McFadden, who was sentenced to life in prison for drug trafficking in Bolivia’s notorious San Pedro Prison. When McFadden is released from prison, he begins working as a prison tour guide for backpackers, which leads him to Young. To tell the unique story of San Pedro’s inmates and the jail’s own self-governing laws and economy, they collaborated together.
Several similarities can be drawn between Marching Powder and Shantaram, such as how they both explore the drug culture in their respective countries and the consequences of being a foreigner in trouble. The next book you should read if you like Shantaram is definitely this one.
The Beach by Alex Garland
While Shantaram is a great book to read while on a trip to India, Alex Garland’s novel The Beach is an excellent follow-up.
When Richard discovers a map to “The Beach” while backpacking in South East Asia, it’s considered one of the most popular books for travelers in the region. The map eventually leads him to a group of travelers who appear to be living in a dreamy paradise on a Thai island off the beaten track. Even though things appear to be straightforward, the community eventually disintegrates.
However, I prefer the book to the movie, which was released in 2000 and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, because it’s more enjoyable and a great read for travelers.
The Damage Done: Twelve Years of Hell in a Bangkok Prison by Warren Fellows
On the heels of Shantaram and Marching Powder, Warren Fellows has written The Damage Done: Twelve Years in a Bangkok Prison.
After being convicted of drug trafficking, Fellows spent twelve years in a Bangkok prison where he wrote his autobiography, detailing the conditions he had to maintain. In spite of the fact that Fellows was convicted of the crimes he committed, the appalling conditions he endured in prison make this book an excellent choice for those seeking more books like Shantaram.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, is a great book for Shantaram fans who want to avoid stories about life in prison and instead read books with similar writing styles.
Santiago, a shepherd, has a dream of finding treasure and sets out on a journey to make it a reality.
If you enjoy Shantaram’s philosophical elements and reading about how people change after traveling the world, The Alchemist is a great book to read. Compared to Shantaram, this is a must-read for readers looking for more books like Shantaram!
Check out our list of books like The Alchemist if you haven’t already read it for more suggestions.
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
In the wake of reading Shantaram, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie is an excellent choice if you’d like to read more books about India.
At midnight on India’s independence in 1947 Saleem, the protagonist, is born and later finds that all children born in the first hour of the country’s independence have special abilities. The novel’s exploration of India’s post-independence issues is set against this backdrop, which offers a unique perspective on the country.
The Booker Prize-winning novel Midnight’s Children is widely regarded as one of the greatest works of literature to come out of the twentieth century.
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
As with many of Mohsin Hamid’s novels about South Asian culture, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is a fantastic read. It tells the story of an unnamed narrator who rises from a poor background to a successful career in business.
As a self-help book, it’s written in the second person and has an unusual style. It’s hilarious and a great book to read if you’re interested in learning more about South Asian culture. Pakistan is a popular assumption for the novel’s setting, as the author is originally from the country.
Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah Macdonald
One of the lighter reads on this list, Sarah Macdonald’s autobiography Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure tells the story of a foreigner trying to fit in India.
In her early twenties, Macdonald visits India as a backpacker and is told by a fortune teller that she will one day return. Her first visit to India left her speechless, and she has no idea what’s in store for her when her partner is transferred to India for work a decade later.
As Macdonald recounts her journey through India, Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure will strike a chord with anyone who has previously done extensive travel in India.
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
No matter how you feel about David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, it is undeniable that they share a number of similarities with Shantaram.
The Incendenza family is the focus of this massive novel by the late David Foster Wallace, which is set in the near future of the United States. While summarizing the plot of this more than a thousand-page book is nearly impossible, it addresses issues such as addiction, mental illness, and society as a whole.
Despite the fact that the plots of Infinite Jest and Shantaram are diametrically opposed, both books attempt to convey similar themes in a similar manner. Infinite Jest, like Shantaram, is a lengthy read, and philosophical tangents can run for pages. The plots are both extremely character-driven, with the main character’s main focus in both novels to be to make lasting human connections.
Even though it’s difficult to match the magic of Shantaram in other books, if you’re looking for more books like it, there are plenty of great choices!