Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Q&A by Vikas Swarup focuses on the life of 19 year old Ram Mohammad Thomas, a poor server in Mumbai, India, who somehow wins a billion rupees on India's equivalent of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Convinced that he cheated (and unable to pay the winning prize amount), the producers try to jail the boy until an attorney interrupts. And that's just the first chapter.

The rest of the book tells the story of Ram's life. Each chapter starts with him discussing with the attorney a certain memory from his past. Each chapter ends with a video clip of him answering a question from the quiz show correctly. Each story he tells correlates perfectly with the question and you learn how he answers each question perfectly. You cheer Ram on as he narrates his tale. His life is full of crazy episodes (living with has-been celebrities, learning about India's red light district, giving tours of the Taj Mahal illegally), but the crazier the better. The ending is far from disappointing, as Swarup delivers an interesting and shocking twist. Every person Ram meets throughout his life is important, every scenario memorable. The book is beautiful, addictive and incredibly entertaining. The writing is spot on and the heartbreaking and warming tale is one to be remembered. Ram is a character who lives on with you, weeks after the last page is closed.

(The film adaptation, Slumdog Millionaire by director Danny Boyle is now out in selected theatres. It focuses more on the love aspect, but still it looks incredible.)