I’ ve just finished reading Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.  This is marketed as a novel, based on his experiences as a member of the Bombay “mafia” in the early 80s after escaping from an Australian prison. I’m not going to review the book, other to say that it is a massive read (930 pages in paperback) that I had to read in two parts, reading another book in between.


My reason for writing this post is to ask why it is a novel and not an autobiography? I’ve come across this before, and it still confuses and annoys me. What made the author (or publisher) decide it should be a novel? Is it because the reality wasn’t actually interesting enough? Did he have to exagarate his part in the proceedings, did he have to invent incidents to make the story more interesting. Or were there legal implications? If the book ends up being very distant from reality, just call it a novel and make no mention of “based upon”.

I know I said I wasn’t going to review it, but if you treat it as a novel it is actually a very good book. I just find it irritating not knowing the fact from the fiction.