Shantaram is a terrific novel based on the author's true story as an Australian prison escapee who works his way through the slums and criminal underworld of India.
Readers will learn a heck of a lot about India from a guy who spent a lot of his life in Bombay on the run from the authorities. He spends time in the poorest of the areas when he first arrives, and the richest of areas as his rank rises in the gangster world. You also learn a lot about history, including that of Afghanistan, as the author tries to navigate the cultures of his new friends.
It's a tad on the long side at almost 1000 pages, but it's also one of the best novels I've read. Enjoy!