While the Australian film, Lion, continues to find box office success, it has also provided new coverage of Saroo Brierley’s 2013 autobiographical novel and the consequent unabridged audiobook, released in late 2016.
Narrated by Canadian actor Vikas Adam with a fairly decent, if slightly uneven Australian accent, the audiobook of Lion: A Long Way Home brings the heart-warming pathos of Brierley’s story to life.
As an uneducated 5-year-old in India, Sheru Khan was accidentally separated from his family and eventually placed in a Kolkata orphanage, some 1,500km from home, after authorities were unable to find his place of origin. Ultimately adopted by a childless Australian couple and renamed Saroo, the little lost boy grew up in Tasmania under the loving guidance of his new parents. As a young adult, he used Google Earth and Facebook to progressively retrace his limited memories of his birthplace and, with support from his family, was ultimately reunited with his natural mother.
The story is remarkable not because of any great adventure to return home, but because of the simple determination of a man to find his family and the kindness of strangers that helped him survive from the time he became lost.
Saroo’s account never once discounts his adoptive family, nor their place in his life. His search is about identity, heritage, and closure. It is beautifully told, beginning with memories of childhood games with brothers, through to surviving on the streets of Kolkata and, eventually, the youthful excitement of being on a plane heading to Australia. When Saroo finally retraces his steps to the town of his birth, whose name he can’t remember, the frustration turns to triumph and the real search for his mother begins.
Narrator Vikas Adam does a good job capturing the positive spirit, apprehension and love that inspired this story. He is clear, emotive and provides a real sense of Saroo’s determination, making for a thoroughly engaging listen. The audiobook of Lion: A Long Way Home runs for approximately 7 hours and 28 minutes. It was distributed through Bolinda Audio in November 2016 and available through Audible.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 9