Vikas Swarup’s debut novel “Q & A” does not need any introduction thanks to the historical success of “Slumdog Millionaire” that made it a household name. The central thought of “Q & A” can be summarized as:
A human life is a journey where knowledge comes from unforeseen and unwarranted places. But, this knowledge is the power that someday may change your life forever.
|Book Title||:||Q & A|
|Publisher||:||RHUK – ; New edition edition (1 February 2006)
(Originally published by the following publishers on 1 April 2005)
Doubleday/Black Swan (Random House) – UK
Simon & Schuster – US
Harper Collins – Canada
|Total Pages||:||384 (Paperback)|
Ram Mohammad Thomas is the most multi-colored protagonist created by contemporary Indian writers, writing in English and writing about modern India. An orphan who by birth has been freed from the shackles of the influence of a single religion / culture ends up being thrown around into all kinds of situations and circumstances. What makes him special is what he absorbs from what life grants him. He is neither flawless nor supremely intelligent nor piously honest. But, he is street-smart and knows how to survive after each disaster that brings him back to zero.
I have been arrested. For winning a quiz show…
The book does not follow a linear format where the hero is born, grows up, does what a hero does. Instead, the proforma of the book is set around the quiz shows that changed the prime-time television a few years ago. Ram Mohammad Thomas has become richer than his dreams and there is one story behind each question he has answered correctly. The stories range from slums of Mumbai to diplomatic world of Delhi to correction homes for juvenile boys to the touristy world of Agra, each featuring Ram Mohammad Thomas of different age and capability.
The book itself is written like a masala Indian movie, albeit a lot of it into one, making this “rags-to-riches” story also one where there is “lost-and-found”, incredible coincidences, every other Indian’s dream of making it to Bollywood and everything else that marks an entertainer. Saying that, the script of “Slumdog Millionaire” is actually a tad better than the book itself as in its more dramatic, more impactful and more “in-your-face”.
All in all, “Q & A” gives us glimpses of life as it is lived in India where things go wrong most of the time. A good read for a lazy afternoon.
An excerpt of the book is available for free to read here.
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