There are several reasons you should read Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram. First and related to the rest is the Roberts is one great writer. Up there with great wordsmiths like Aldous Huxley and Joseph Conrad. The real reasons though are the pictures Roberts paints with words. The picture of the Mumbai (Bombay) slum. The picture of a Mumbai mafia lord who cares about and for the 25,000 residents of that slum. The picture he paints of the joy in the midst of that slum. There are also wonderful images of the ex patriot community in Mumbai. As someone who has been a part of such a community one I can identify with. There are the pictures of life in an Indian prison and word images of Afghanistan during the Russian occupation. But perhaps most important are the images of a mind that needs acceptance and forgiveness, not from others but from himself.
I would not have picked this book up myself. It was given to me and I'm thankful that it was.