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Q & A [Paperback]

Vikas Swarup
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

1 Feb 2006

The bestselling book behind the Oscar-winning film SLUMDOG MILLLIONAIRE directed by Danny Boyle

Former tiffinboy Ram Mohammad Thomas has just got twelve questions correct on a TV quiz-show to win a cool one billion rupees. But he is brutally slung in prison on suspicion of cheating. Because how can a kid from the slums know who Shakespeare was, unless he is pulling a fast one.

In the order of the questions on the show, Ram tells us which incredible adventures in his life on the streets gave him the answers. From orphanages to brothels, gangsters to beggar-masters, and into the homes of Bollywood's rich and famous, Ram's story is brimming with the chaotic comedy, heart-stopping tragedy and tear-inducing joyousness of modern India.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New edition edition (1 Feb 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055277250X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552772501
  • Product Dimensions: 12.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 137,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This brilliant story, as colossal, vibrant and chaotic as India itself... is not to be missed" (Observer)

"Poignant, funny, rich... with an utterly orignal and brilliant structure at its heart" (Meg Rosoff, author of HOW I LIVE NOW)

"Mingling broad humour with incisive social comment, Q&A is absorbing and richly entertaining reading" (The Times)

"This lively picaresque novel has an original and telling premise... a colourful portrait of Indian society is painted with remarkable lightness and wit" (Sunday Telegraph)

"A hugely successful mixture of satire and intrigue" (Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

The bestselling, award-winning novel behind the Oscar-winning film SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, directed by Danny Boyle

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
96 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting, page-turning romp 20 May 2005
Ram Mohammed Thomas, a poor, 18-year old waiter from the wrong side of the tracks, becomes the biggest quiz-show winner in history, scooping a billion rupee prize in an Indian television programme which goes one better than 'Millionaire'. Unfortunately, the producers don't have the money to pay him, so instead, charge him with fraud. Fortunately, a young lawyer comes to his assistance. Chapter by chapter, the young man recounts his autobiography, the narrative of his fraught life illustrating how it is that an ignorant, uneducated teenager comes to know the answers to all the questions he is asked on the show.
This is a wonderful adventure as we piece together the life of young Ram Mohammed Thomas. He is a man with three names - no one can quite work out whether he is Hindu, Moslem, or Christian. He is a young man with many more identities. Vikas Swarup (an Indian diplomat), leads us through a lifestyle which passes sardonic, not to mention savage commentary on contemporary India.
The tale is almost Dickensian in the range of characters who appear on the pages, wholly Dickensian in its theme of the homeless orphan setting out to find his way in the world, transforming survival into fortune.
The tale is told in a dozen short stories which are woven together into a whole autobiography. We move backwards and forwards through Ram Mohammed Thomas' life, encountering the varied characters who shape his destiny. We have gangsters and robbers, Bollywood, poverty and exploitation, espionage and a wry dig at diplomacy and notions of racial and cultural superiority, and a reflection on how truth is always the first casualty of war as India and Pakistan square up.
Vikas Swarup writes a well-paced novel.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flat out fantastic! 3 Mar 2005
Q&A is an amazing book. One of the finest novels you will ever read. Possibly the best debut novel by an Indian Author. And the reason is not hard to find. Its the best marriage I have ever seen between prose and plot.
First the plot. An ill-educated, 18 year old orphan, working as a waiter in Jimmy's Bar in Mumbai, appears on the latest show in town called W3B - "Who Will Win A Billion" and correctly answers all 12 questions to win the jackpot of one billion rupees. The unscrupulous producers of the show are stunned. How can an illierate water answer all these tough questions. So they promptly bribe the police and ask them to frame Ram Mohammad Thomas for cheating. A young lawyer called Smita Shah suddenly appears in the police station where Thomas is being tortured, reads out the law to the Inspector and takes him away to her house. Then, over the course of that night - the longest night of Thomas's life - she gets him to recount the story of his life and how it enabled him to answer the 12 questions on the quiz show, question by question. So, as can guess, the novel has exactly 12 chapters.
Now for the prose. The story is narrated in a stunningly original first person voice. Simple yet supple. Non-melodramatic, yet lyrical. It made me laugh and it made me cry. Here's a sample- Ram Mohammad Thomas talking about his life in a juvenile home: "We huddle around the twenty-one-inch Dyanora TV and watch Hindi film songs and Channel V and middle-class soaps on Doordarshan. We especially like watching the films on Sunday.These films are about a fantasy world. A world in which kids have mothers and fathers, and birthdays. A world in which they live in huge houses, drive in huge cars and get huge presents. We saw this fantasy world, but we never got carried away by it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3 and 1/2 stars would be more accurate 17 Jan 2009
I liked this and read it fairly quickly as the structure of it - almost a series of short stories tied together - encouraged me to get to the end of each chapter (or two, or three) before putting it down. It's darker too than I expected it to be. I've yet to see the film, but I'm guessing it may be fluffied up a bit. I would have scored this more highly, but I felt the ending let it down a bit. It's not a bad ending, but a little hurried and unconvincing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breakthrough first novel 30 April 2005
Q & A is brilliant and stunning. From the boarish Colonel Taylor to the vulnerable Shankar, from the brothels of Agra to the seafront in Mumbai, every place and person has that brush and smell of India. I have rarely read anything more human or more accessible on modern India where Swarup touches lightly, yet provocatively on sensitive strands which run through its society. This is where Rohinton Mistry meets a 21st Century Somerset Maugham, portraying extremes of cruelty and kindness with understanding and compassion and without being judgemental. It is a book which hovers for a few days at the back of one's life with a yearning to return to it, while its characters and stories will linger for much longer.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A valuable insight into Indian society 3 Aug 2006
Q & A by Vikas Swarup provides the reader a valuable insight into Indian society, which is beatifully narratted and delivered in this novel. The key areas pointed out in this novel, which charaterized modern Indian society are the caste system, corruption, illegal sex, widespread poverty and long standing passion for Bollywood and cricket.

The story runs in parrallel with Ram Mohammad Thomas a contestant in a quiz show along with various events occurring in his life. He is accussed of cheating in the show in which he wins a billion. The idea is based on the army general who cheated in Who want to win a millionaire in UK. That is the general gist of the story. A section which accompanies this novel is an interview with the author. This section is interesting to read.

Overall, Q & A is an enjoyable read and gives you a real taste of Indian culture. There is contrasting sides to the Indian society you will witness as a reader. The good side combined with the dark side.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Super
A great read that builds up the tension and gives a glimpse into the culture in India. Love this book and will read it again and again
Published 24 days ago by Barbara Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius
Easy to read, a window into a different world. Violent and difficult themes dealt with well. Everyone should read this.
Published 8 months ago by K. Walker
4.0 out of 5 stars A favourite book
This was a fun book to read, like a favourite children's book with a mystery at its centre, but with serious social themes. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Millions
5.0 out of 5 stars Slumdog with a few changes
I found this book better than the film Slumdog Millionaire which is based in this book, though others in my book group preferred the film. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Georgy H
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine novel!
I've just finished reading Q & A for the second time, confirming my impression that while Slumdog Millionaire (a most unfortunate title, by the way) was a good film of its kind, it... Read more
Published 9 months ago by David Greig
4.0 out of 5 stars different from the film
Had great expectations after seeing a fantastic film and was a little disappointed after first chapter or so. But..... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Alan S Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars An all time fave!
As great as the movie "Slum Dog Millionaire" was, the story that it was based on is even better! Visas Swarup has quickly become one of my favorite authors. Read more
Published 10 months ago by John Covington
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable
having enjoyed the film (Slumdog Millionaire) that was based on the book, I decided to read the book itself. Well written, and thoroughly enjoyable. Would recommend.
Published 10 months ago by Ms. A. Lyons
5.0 out of 5 stars Start it, you won't be able to put it down!
This book is really different from the oscar winning movie "Slumdog Millionaire", but a really good book, I found it was even more sad and moving. I devored it !
Published 11 months ago by C. Louvet
4.0 out of 5 stars Slumdog Millionaire
A very readable book which also gives you a fascinating insight to the life of the poor in India.. It also helps to remember that the title of the film of the book was... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Harold Toms
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