Shantaram is a novel written by Australian writer Gregory David Roberts first published in 2003. Before becoming an author and charity worker, Roberts was a heroin addict and bank robber, who got caught but then escaped from Pentridge Prison and fled to India. The title, which is an Indian word means “man of peace” in English, was taken from the name Roberts given by his best friend's mother during the time he lived in India. Although the author stated that the book is actually a fictional novel, there is a debate surrounding it about how much of it is actual fact—some people refer the book as an autobiography—and which parts are invented fictions.
The main character and narrator in Shantaram is Lindsay Ford, a most-wanted Australian who has just escaped from prison and arrived in Mumbai. His initial plan is to make a short stop in the city before continuing his run to Germany but it turns out that his stay in one of the most crowded and complex cities in India lasts longer. He then builds a strong and faithful friendship with his guide, Prabaker, who gives him name Lin (Linbaba). It was during their visit to Prabaker’s village when Lindsay—now Lin—gets his name Shantaram, which means “Man of God's Peace,” from Prabaker’s mother.
Together, Lin and Prabaker venture into the slums and the darker side of the remarkable Mumbai, where they meet all sorts of people: beggars, prostitutes, actors, holy men, soldiers, gangsters, etc. Lin is a wanted fugitive with no home or family and during, who yearns for love and meaning for his life. This search brings him to an amazing and dangerous adventure; from setting up a free health clinic in the city’s poorest slum to being an apprentice to Bombay mafia. In this very journey, Lin witnesses and experiences terrible things like war, murder, prison torture, and betrayals. However, it is also in that gloomy times that he finds what he is looking for, as he says, "It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured."