Q & A, Vikas Swarup


Ram Mohammad Thomas is a teenage waiter from Mumbai. Due to his background, his achievement shocks everyone after correctly answering all twelve questions on India's biggest quiz show, Who Will Win a Billion? It is hard to believe that a poor orphan who has never gone to school could win such a contest and this ends up Ram being thrown into a police cell on suspicion of cheating. In each question, there is a story behind which explains why Ram has all the right reasons to answer them correctly. His street knowledge is beyond our expectation or what we can think about him.

I love almost every story behind every question and I feel the author has a brilliant idea in connecting each question with the character's life. It seems a bit confusing when the sequence of the questions is not the same as the order of the character's life but this makes the story much more interesting than having both in sequential way. The biggest challenge is the author has to ensure that the readers do not feel lost in the middle of the story and I really feel that the author has put a lot of effort to make sure the readers can follow the story well.

Here are some of my favourite quotes from this book:

I reflect on how good it is to have simple, uncomplicated ambitions, like shaking a film star's hand.

Train journeys are about possibilities. They denote a change in state. When you arrive, you are no longer the same person who departed. You can make new friends enroute, or find old enemies.

It taught me a very valuable lesson. That dreams have power only over your own mind. But with money you can have power over the minds of others.

‘Well Madam, we poor can also ask questions and demand answers. And I bet you, if the poor conducted a quiz, the rich wouldn’t be able to answer a single question.’

‘It’s a dirty world out there, but if no one agrees to do the washing, the whole country goes down the shit house.’

So I got the job, and only then did I discover that life with a movie star is not as glamorous as it appears from the outside. When you get to see them without make-up you find that they are exactly like you and me, with the same anxieties and insecurities. The only difference is that we are mainly concerned with money, or lack of it, and they are mainly concerned with fame. Or lack of it.

They live in a fish bowl. First they hate it, then, as adulation grows, they start loving it. And when people no longer shower attention on them, they just shrivel up and die.

Rating: ★★★★★
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