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The Accidental Apprentice Hardcover – 25 Apr 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (25 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471113159
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471113154
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 237,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'Sapna Sinha is an archetype of the new India. She has a degree but has to work as a sales girl to support her mother and sister. Then one of India's richest men chooses Sapna to take over as CEO of his vast corporation if she can pass seven tests. Gripping stuff…' -- The Times

'Sapna, a resourceful Delhi shop assistant struggling to support her mother and sister, is approached out of the blue by a tycoon who offers her a job as CEO of his company provided she can pass seven unspecified tests. In the process she confronts some of India's most deep-rooted problems, from corruption and child labour to forced marriage. It gets off to an exciting start and ends with a spectacular twist' -- Mail on Sunday

'Vikas Swarup's debut novel, Q&A, became the wildly successful movie Slumdog Millionaire...This, his third novel, is a tale of a young woman's moral fortitude against the corruption of modern India...she is brave and fierce and we like her...Swarup's voice has a magical quality an essential kindness, a likeability...Like the Bollywood dance at the end of Slumdog Millionaire, it is oddly uplifting and joyful. The film rights are no doubt already sold'-- The Sunday Times

'...a lowly Delhi shop assistant is set to inherit a fortune but not until she completes seven trials set by her shady benefactor'-- Time Out

'Sapna's tests confront her with great social forces that ebb and flood over the precarious turf of middle-class India, and Swarup is able to skim them right from the surface of India's current mediascape: more reality TV shows, this time for singing talent; brutal conservatism embodied in village councils that cast errant young lovers to their graves; a lone Ghanhian's fast, a stance that 'snowballs into an avalanche' of protest against corruption... 'Hope is a recreational drug, giving you an artificial high based on a dosage of unrealistic expectations,' Sapna mutters in a low moment. Other characters refer to the ways the hope drug is administered: bogus equity, talent shows, the actual lottery. Sapna, whose name means 'dreams' is from a generation of young Indians spoiled by two decades of buoyant and liberalised growth. The fear is that, in times ahead, those spoils will go to someone else. What else to do then but go to the temple, fold your palms, and pray for someone to tap your shoulder?' -- Financial Times

'A complex, challenging and deeply moving tale of following our dreams until they come true by the bestselling author of Slumdog Millionaire' --Press Association

About the Author

Vikas Swarup is the author of the bestselling sensation Q&A, which was filmed as the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, and Six Suspects. His novels have been translated into more than forty languages. Find out more at

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Jun 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It would be easy to dismiss Vikas Swarup as a writer of fluff. His stories are stylized, cartoonish. The colours are bright and the characters are extremes. Plot-lines stretch credulity to breaking point as a support cast dances in geometric patterns on the station platforms. And the endings are always happy. It's Bollywood in a book.

But within all the schamltz and glitz, there's something much deeper. By taking what are essentially short stories, fitting them into a super-contrived TV gameshow format, Swarup is able to shine a light onto modern Indian society.

Unusually, The Accidental Apprentice centres around a middle class family. Sapna Sinha is an educated young woman who works as a sales assistant in a high end electrical showroom in Delhi's Connaught Place. She has money to buy treats and take auto-rickshaw rides. Yet she resents her job and her place in the hierarchy; she believes she deserves more. Sapna's family may find themselves in straitened circumstances following the death of her father, but they still have a roof over their heads, food in their bellies and room to dream of TV stardom.

Through a framing device of a wealthy businessman who wants to appoint Sapna as CEO of his corporation, Sapna is taken on something of a tour, meeting TV celebrities, journalists, wealthy moguls, police officers, government bureaucrats, poor farmers and child labourers. The stories are fairly self-contained but do have some thread of continuity running through. There are paradigm shifts aplenty as we are convinced that characters are good, then bad, then good again. Everyone stands a chance of redemption in this story, right up until the very end. But, of course, not everyone takes the opportunity...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. J. Noyes TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 April 2014
Format: Paperback
3.5 stars, but I’ll round up to 4.

I’ll be honest – I read this because I enjoyed the book and film of Q&A / Slumdog Millionaire. I liked the sound of the plot, and I fancied another trip to Swarup’s India.

Having just finished, I have mixed feelings about The Accidental Apprentice. The ‘what if’ that drives it all is a good one: what if… a rich man offers you his multi-billion company? Pass his tests, and you get the position of CEO. A great wish-fulfilment scenario. This is what happens to Sapna Sinha, a sales assistant in a Delhi electronics store. Sapna’s family are struggling to pay their bills, her mother is mourning a husband and daughter, and her sister dreams of fame and fortune, leaving Sapna head of the family.
Initially reluctant, circumstances force Sapna to accept the CEO’s offer, and the tests begin. But they are not what Sapna was expecting.

Sapna’s world is a well-created one, I could see the cities, the slums, the villages that she journeys through. I liked her – she’s smart and well-read, demonstrates her spirit and resourcefulness and shows herself to be an admirable person. Her sister Neha and mother are harder to like – neither gets enough page-time to be wholly sympathetic, though Neha gets a few scenes to become a little less two-dimensional.

The story itself gets quite episodic – each ‘test’ gets its own chapter, and you can see some ‘twists’ coming. They are enjoyable though – I let the sillier parts of the story wash over me, as I was enjoying the idea of the tests and seeing if I was right about my guesses. Lots of Sapna’s friends seem remarkably well-placed (geographically as well as career-wise) to assist Sapna just when she might need them, conveniently. Coincidence, as in Slumdog Millionaire, plays quite a big role.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Susie B TOP 50 REVIEWER on 28 April 2013
Format: Hardcover
Vikas Swarup's third novel: 'The Accidental Apprentice' tells the story of Sapna Sinah, a middle-class salesgirl, struggling to make ends meet, who works in an electronics boutique in downtown Delhi. When leaving a temple one day, Sapna is accosted by an expensively dressed, elderly man who introduces himself as Vinay Mohan Acharya, owner of Acharya Business Consortium. Sapna is surprised; she knows that the ABC Group is one of India's largest conglomerates and that Acharya is a multi-millionaire - but she is even more surprised when he makes her an offer that he thinks she cannot refuse. Acharya is looking for a Chief Executive Officer to take over the running of ABC and, even though Sapna has absolutely no experience in this field, he has decided that she might well be the person he is looking for - but, he tells her, there is a catch; she has to pass seven tests from what he refers to as: 'the textbook of life'.

Although Sapna and her mother and younger sister are living in reduced circumstances after the death of her teacher father, Sapna turns down Acharya's offer immediately - after all, she reminds herself, if something appears to be too good to be true, it usually is. However, when a sequence of unfortunate events leave Sapna in urgent need of money, she decides to accept Acharya's offer and, with trepidation, awaits the series of tasks which will test her character, her morals, her courage, her initiative and her capabilities. In consequence, Sapna soon finds herself embroiled in a variety of unusual and difficult situations, including a forced marriage, a suicide threat, illegal child labour, a TV reality show, a visit from a Bollywood superstar, and an illegal organ donation service, to name just a few.
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