Shanti Bloody Shanti: An Indian Odyssey


ISBN: 9781921924118 Format: Transit Lounge PB 256pp 135 x 210mm Rights: All Rights ex US and UK Release / Publication Date: 01 /11 /2011


‘Aaron has a rare gift for storytelling and is one of the most brilliant bestsellers-in-waiting out there today.’ Tahir Shah, bestselling UK travel author.

Fleeing his shady Australian past, Aaron Smith travels to India and encounters a murder mystery, witnesses the tragic death of a friend, dodges terrorist attacks and a revolution and befriends a colourful cast of fellow characters fit for a Bollywood flick. More than just a funny and warm ‘coming of (middle) age’ travel adventure Shanti Bloody Shanti allows the reader to sink into the paradox and beauty of India without drowning in sentiment. It’s a bit like Sarah Macdonald’s Holy Cow but more dramatic or Gregory David Robert’s Shantaram but laugh out loud funny.

Aaron Smith was born in 1969 near London. He grew up in Hobart, Tasmania and has grown older in various locations around the planet. He has worked as a freelance journalist for various publications, including inflight magazines, newspapers, adventure sports magazines and literary journals. He has previously written plays performed in various arts and comedy festivals in Australia which have been produced by various companies including Melbourne’s La Mama. Before writing Aaron was an actor, musician, truck driver and many other things in between. He is currently the editor of the Torres News, a weekly tabloid newspaper in the remote Torres Strait in far north Queensland, where he lives with his wife and daughter. More at:;

Shanti Bloody shanti is one of those rip-roaring rollicking good time Boys’ Own Adventure kind of tales, told with a distinctly Aussie voice and a delightfully devious sense of humour.

Aaron Smith’s Indian odyssey is filled with imagery so vivid that, by the end of the third chapter, I began to feel like a seasoned visitor to Mother India, despite the fact that I’ve never set foot on her shores.

Karenlee Thompson

Man with shady past travels to India to find himself and to avoid being bumped off by a jealous drug dealer after sleeping with his girlfriend. Once there, among flea-ridden dives, political upheaval faux new-age mysticism and odd-ball characters, a succession of encounters and the death of a friend lead to a little wisdom and redemption. In style and tone, Smith’s book is somewhere between Shantaram and Sarah MacDonald’s Holy Cow, books that populate the shelves of the traveller’s cafes and budget hotels that form much of the backdrop to his story. And while one suspects truth is at times sacrificed on the altar of compelling narrative it’s a funny and enjoyable romp packed with traveller’s tales that ring true.

Julian Swallow, The Advertiser , Dec 2011

If your’re afflicted by middle-aged blues or just plain broken-hearted and suspect travel and drugs could provide a cure, this soul-searching romp through India is for you. Old Indian hands will recognise the artful descriptions of places such as Sudder St and Rishikesh, or the crappy hotels and the often incomprehensible ways of the locals. Smith enlivens these scenes using Vedic legends as background to the chaos of a modern India, infused by merry bands of wobbly-headed Westerners on their spiritual quests. Verdict: amusing Gen-X read.

Stuart Pridham, Herald Sun, Nov 19 2011

Fleeing a hitman, Smith escapes to India where he stumbles upon a murder mystery, evades a terrorist attack and meets eccentric characters while soaking up the chaotic charm of the country.

Travel 3 Sixty. Air Asia Inflight Magazine, December 2011

Smith is an exquisite storyteller whose dynamic tales create a narrator who is a friend, a teacher, and a travelling companion. Shanti bloody shanti is humid with colloquial density and reveals the magic, mystery, and sadness of one man’s Indian experience. Though it is no Booker prize winner, this book is an interesting and poignant tale with a sharp with that will keep you chuckling for days.
Read this book if you love The Hangover movies.’

Kate Fitzpatrick,