Book Review: Q & A – Vikas Swarup

I had bought this book on a whim around a year back, and got around to reading it just few days back. I had no idea what a treat was sitting on my bookshelf untouched.

Yesterday night I completed Q & A by Vikas Swarup. This is the story of an orphaned 18-year-old boy who is currently a waiter at a bar in Mumbai, and has just won a Billion rupees (yes, you read it right – a billion) in a game show. The people behind the show think he has cheated, and Ram Mohammad Thomas finds himself in the jail. The whole book is about him proving his innocence. He recounts episodes from his life in Mumbai, Delhi and Agra, and how each incident helped him find the correct answer to the question being posed to him. At the outset, Ram Mohammad Thomas says he got lucky. He did did get very lucky – he was asked a question about some actress, he had worked for her; he was asked about some diplomatic term, he had worked for an Australian diplomat; he was asked an English literature question, he had helped a English teacher and called him up for help, and so on. But the quiz show is largely in the background. Mainly this book narrates the life of Ram Mohammad Thomas from his birth to the present; each chapter deals with a different phase of his life.

The coincidences, which help Ram Mohammad Thomas to win the quiz, are nothing short of colossal, but then we are forewarned about this in the initial few pages itself. So I was actually looking forward to how each incident in the protagonist’s life helps him answer the question. Though sometimes the book does read like a movie-script and at few places it drags along.

On the whole a very enjoyable read. I would strongly recommend this book, although I have doubts if this book is in the market now. I bought it a year back and it was the last copy in the store that time. Since then in my umpteen visits to the bookstores I have never seen this book.

But if you lay your hands on it, don’t let it go without reading.

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16 Responses to “Book Review: Q & A – Vikas Swarup”

  1. 1 Sreejith September 5, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    verry interesting. seems like a KBC offshoot/spinoff. And decently priced at 230 bucks ..hey you can buy it here!

  2. 2 HalleY September 6, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Q & A .. is a good book .
    Someone told me they are going to make a film based on that.

  3. 3 Karan September 6, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    I agree, i loved it, and finished it all in one go!

  4. 4 Kunal September 6, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    Sreejith, there is a mention of KBC in the book… and yeah thanks for the link 🙂
    and dude, now I think that Akismet has learned and not marked you as spam 😛

    Halley, yeah even I heard.. a movie named Slumdog Millionaire .. but the premise seems different… thats why I did not link to it in the post …

    Karan, 🙂

  5. 5 Rohit Menon September 10, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    Actually i’d read the first 50 odd pages a while back. Thought it was pretty gripping. Never got around to finishing it though. Have you read ‘Maximum City’? I thought the style in both were vvery similar.

  6. 6 Poorna Shashank September 20, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    I go to read the book more than a year ago. Contrary to your experience though, I found it too filmiesque and definitely not gripping. Well, Maximum City was a better read.

  7. 7 Kunal September 21, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Rohit, have not read “Maximum City” .. will try it now ..

    Kopos, the book surely seems to be written keeping in mind that one day it would be converted to a movie, but still I liked it. I am a person who visualizes the book as I read it.. so for me it was good 🙂 and will definitely try “Maximum City”

  8. 8 preet November 23, 2008 at 10:04 am

    i read this book because i saw a promotion for “slumdog millionaire”. the movie seems really interesting and i needed to read a book by a foreign author. q & a was really good…there were a lot of references to hindi movies but still i think it showed me the poverty of india.
    everyone above 15 (because of some graphic bits) should read it 🙂

  9. 9 anubhav February 6, 2009 at 4:03 pm


  10. 10 Nancy September 7, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    The visit was useful. Content was really very informative.

  11. 11 Selva kumar September 7, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    It’s a very good book.It has many twist and turn’s.Hero pointing the gun on quiz master and the reason he says is the ultimate twist.

  12. 12 whoami September 22, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I read this book after watching the movie, Slumdog! What I really liked about the book is the way the answers are coupled to some incidents in his life. Also read Vikas’s next work “Six Suspects”, all I can say is stay away from it! Every author gives their best shot in the first novel and seems to take the readers for granted in the next one!

  13. 13 khandu October 5, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    the book is really interesting one, every body should go through it at least once because if u mis it u miss something important in your life.really mr vikas u worth hats off!

  14. 14 gogol December 2, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Hmmm Great mna,

    liked ur review… but i didnt read the book that after watching the movie i lost interest of buying … do u recomend even after watching the movie should i go with the read… i dont think so….. but i liked Six Suspects….. i find it more spicy and speedy … vikas i feel is just one among those who do justice to IWE


  1. 1 smr’s blog » i have nothing to blog Trackback on September 12, 2007 at 12:35 am
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