Q and A
Why is a penniless waiter from Mumbai sitting in a prison cell? Is it because: a)he has punched a customer; b)he has drunk too much whisky; c)he has stolen money from the till; or d)he is the biggest quiz-show winner in history? Ram Mohammad Thomas has been arrested. For answering twelve questions correctly on Who Will Win A Billion? Because a poor orphan who has never gone to school cannot name the smallest planet in the solar system, or the plays of Shakespeare. Unless he has cheated. Ram prepares his defence by reviewing TV footage of the show, and takes us on an amazing tour of his life. From the day he is rescued from a dustbin, to his encounter with a security-crazed Australian colonel, and a spell as an over-creative guide at the Taj Mahal, Ram's survival instincts are infallible. Stunning an audience of millions, he draws on a store of street wisdom and trivia to provide him with the essential keys, not only to the quiz show, but to life itself. Set in modern India, Q AND A presents a kaleidoscopic vision of the struggle of good against evil, and what happens when one boy has no choice left in life but to survive.
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Filmed as “Slumdog Millionaire,” this is a first book by Vikas Swarup; an Indian diplomat who has served in countries such as Turkey, United Kingdom, and Ethiopia and for a while was posted at the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.
Based in India this is told in a simple manner. A baby is found by a priest in a dustbin in New Delhi and is given three names – Ram Mohamed Thomas – Hindu, Muslim and the latter being the name of the priest who takes in the baby - Christian names. The child’s mother is unknown as is his father. But then one day, the father is found dead and Ram Mohamed Thomas is sold to some people, who along with a friend that he has made, Salim. But the men are not really what they seem to be – they maim children and send them out on the streets to beg. Its when Ram Mohamed Thomas, who has learnt English while in New Delhi, overhears a conversation, that he realises what is going to happen to his friend and the two boys escape and live in a slum. But then, soon, he is on the move again to Delhi and then back to Mumbai and then to Agra and finally to Mumbai again to enter the biggest quiz show and in a hope of winning a billion rupees on it.
As fate would have it, the producers of the show have Ram Mohamed Thomas arrested, for they believe that he has been cheating after he answers all questions correctly.
What makes this novel worth reading is the way that it is told and it is gripping from the very beginning till the last page. Vikas Swarup gives the answers to the questions that his character has to answer in each chapter and has used simple words for the purpose of description which enables the reader to imagine what is happening. One will not be able to put the book down and will want to know what is happening at the turn of each page and chapter.