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Bhavya (India)

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Q &  A
Q & A
by Vikas Swarup
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional read, 25 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Q & A (Paperback)
This is an exceptional read. It's, and I do not exxagerate, one of the finest debut novels I have ever read. It is the finest novel from an Indian Author I have ever read, because it doesn't pretend to be anything, it doesn't try to be poetic, or flowery, it doesn't stink of Arundhati Roy. Here's why.

A short background first. Q and A is the story of a life less ordinary, of an orphan named Ram Mohommad Thomas, and how he manages to win Rs. One Billion in a quiz show, by answering 12 questions. The book starts off with his arrest for winning, as a simple waiter living in Dharavi could not possibly have answered quiz questions without having cheated. The book relates his story in first person, and how he explains how he got lucky. The narrative takes us through his life, explaining just how he picked up the knowledge to answer those series of 12 questions.

Now, to the craft itself. The narrative is simple, first person, and very expressive. The story is a wonderful construction, a series of coincidences, of meetings and opportunities won and lost, with Villians, heroes, bad guys, good guys, dacoits, film stars, contract killers, and everything in the world in tow. I've heard the book has already sold movie rights, and I'm not suprised. It would make for an incredible watch. I can hear you saying Forrest Gump already, but this, I assure you, is a lot better. Forrest Gump carries with it an air of complete disbelief, which makes you smile all the way through, whereas Q and A carries with an eerie air of belief, of situations that we've seen or heard of, of a life some of us live, and some choose to ignore. Whereas a Forrest Gump lives through a picture perfect life, Ram Mohammed Thomas has seen joy, suffering, pain and loss. This gives it an Aura of realism, and keeps it from becoming Filmi.

The narrative is brilliantly constructed, and is storytelling at it's finest. Books these days, well, novels, have forgotten what they are supposed to be about, which is to tell a tale, spin a yarn. This book brings that lost art back, it has no moral, it has no fancy characters, with inner turmoil and angst, it's a potboiler of a story, plain and simple.

Now, to the ending. I wish I wrote it. I finished the book, and aside from an appreciative content smile on my face, only one thing came to mind, "Damn, I wish I wrote that". The ending has the kind of twist you expect at the end of a great story, and if I wasn't a writer myself, I couldn't have appreciated the thought and sentiment that goes into coming up with something like that.

What is it?

Read it and find out.

Oh, I'll leave you with the last line though.

"Because luck comes from within."


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