Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Shantaram is a lovely sprawling adventure story and romance set in the Indian and Afghan underworld as seen by self-aggrandizing escaped convicted Austrialian heroin addict and thief. The novel I swell written, albeit in something of an over-the-top Pat Conroy style in which music and soul and moonlight and a generalized excessive romanticizing of the Indian subcontinent dominate the prose.
Our hero escapes to India, falls in with the locals, lives in the slums, is a heroic doctor, becomes a powerful and wealthy gangster, overthrows an evil madam, loves women, smokes a lot of hash, smuggles drugs, goes to prison, falls in with the mujahedeen, fights Russians in Afghanistan, and returns to Bombay.
There is a lot to like here, and I was happy for the recommendation. This book is alive with the magic and romanticism of India, as seen by Western eyes. This is exactly what Rushdie and Adiga are rebelling against, so in the larger context of literature about the region it suffers a little. But it is a lot of fun, and an enchanting story.