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.
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, www.talesfromoz.com.au