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.