Q & A by Vikas Swarup

I’ve just finished reading Q & A by Vikas Swarup. It tells the story of Ram Mohammad Thomas, an eighteen year old waiter in Mumbai, India. He wins one billion rupees after answering twelve questions correctly on a television quiz show, Who Will Win a Billion (similar to Who Wants to be a Millionaire). The show’s producers are convinced he must have cheated. He’s an uneducated orphan who has spent much of his living in slums – how could he possibly know the answers?

The book is divided into twelve chapters, one for each question. Each chapter tells the story of part of Ram’s life and how it came to be that he knew the answer to the question. It’s an interesting way to present a book – each chapter is a free-standing story in itself.

The book gives an insight into a side of India that we all know exists but don’t often see. Generally I don’t think this book portrays India in a good light. It mostly deals with the darker aspects of life – poverty in particular. It is however quite an uplifting story. This poor boy has had an awful childhood and seen things he should never see. But he never gives up and as the reader you are always rooting for him.

I read this as part of my book group and it was unanimously enjoyed. Ultimately it’s a feel-good book. Good versus evil. I gave it 4 out of 5.

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