Q and A

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Doubleday, Apr 1, 2005 - Fiction - 303 pages
4 Reviews
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.


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About the author (2005)

Vikas Swarup was born in Allahabad (India). He attended Allahabad University and studied History, Psychology and Philosophy. After graduating with distinction, he joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1986. In his diplomatic career, Vikas has been posted to various countries such as Turkey, the United States, Ethiopia and the United Kingdom. Since August 2006 he has been posted in Pretoria as Indiażs Deputy High Commissioner. Q&A is his first novel. Published by Doubleday/Random House (UK & Commonwealth), Harper Collins (Canada) and Scribner (US), it has sold translation rights in 40 languages. It was short listed for the Best First Book by the Commonwealth Writerżs Prize and won South Africażs Exclusive Books Boeke Prize 2006 as well as the Paris Book Fair's Reader's Prize, the Prix Grand Public, in 2007. The audio book, read by Kerry Shale, won the award for Best Audio Book of the Year 2005. The film version of Q&A, titled 'Slumdog Millionaire' and directed by Danny Boyle, has won more than 70 awards including four Golden Globes, 8 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director, and 11 BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) nominations. Vikas's second novel Six Suspects was published by Transworld in August 2008. It is being translated into several languages and has been optioned for a film by Starfield Productions and the BBC. Apart from reading, Vikas enjoys listening to music and playing cricket, tennis and table tennis. He is married and has 2 sons.

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