Is Karla 100% fiction or is she a part of the real life?
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I always believed that this was more of an autobiography, so I did a bit of research! This is directly from an interview done with the author; the site is listed below.
Q. 6) When did the idea of an autobiography, with the city both as a character and as a backdrop, first strike you?
A. 6). With respect, Shantaram is not an autobiography, it’s a novel. If the book reads like an autobiography, I take that as a very high compliment, because I structured the created narrative to read like fiction but feel like fact. I wanted the novel to have the page-turning drive of a work of fiction but to be informed by such a powerful stream of real experience that it had the authentic feel of fact.
That being said, the answer to your question is that I made the decision – to include myself in my own work – while I was on a smuggling run to Africa. I sat at a table in my favourite dive in Kinshasa, in what was then the nation of Zaire, and shared a drinking session with five other men who were all in the city as smugglers, mercenaries, and law-breakers. We took turns to tell each other our stories. When the other men voted my story the most interesting, I made the decision to stop writing from the invisible, omniscient author’s perspective, and to include myself in my work.