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Q & A by Vikas Swarup
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Q & A (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Vikas Swarup

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2,2431082,861 (3.9)52
Member:Mason_100
Title:Q & A
Authors:Vikas Swarup
Info:Scribner (2005), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:None

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Q & A by Vikas Swarup (2005)

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Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
“I wonder what it feels like to have no desires left because you have satisfied them all, smothered them with money even before they are born. Is an existence without desire very desirable? And is the poverty of desire better than rank poverty itself?”

Like a sizable chunk of humanity I watched the movie adaptation of this book Slumdog Millionaire some time ago and felt that now the time was right to read the original. I'm pleased that I did.

Like the movie the book tells the story of Ram Mohammed Thomas from abandoned orphan to billion rupee quiz show winner with each chapter giving a vital clue to the correct answer in the show but in many ways the book and movie are very different and that is purely down to their mediums. The movie is more glitzy showing the sometimes squalid life in urban India in glossy colour whereas the book is more gritty but also with more humour and pathos. There is squalor and there is brutality in the novel but you also find yourself smiling along too. The book is in many ways a modern fairy tale based on Cinderella, one minute RMT is dragged from abject poverty to fabulous riches the next he is Prince Charming saving his beloved from an unimaginable life but it is also a series of short stories. OK some of the plot twists are rather far fetched but that does not detract too heavily on the overall feel of the book. Perhaps the biggest strength of the book is RMT himself, he is such a likable character and you constantly find yourself really rooting for him. However,the author's descriptions of India, in particular the section about the Taj Mahal feel so alive and vivid.

This apparently is the author's debut novel and that in itself is quite remarkable INHO. This book was actually renamed Slumdog Millionaire in a clever marketing ploy but don't be fooled by that they are two very different beasts. Read this book for yourself and see for yourself. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Mar 9, 2014 |
Retitling Q&A to Slumdog Millionaire is one of the clever marketing way that the publisher had done to the book. As much as I love watching the movie, the book itself is largely a disappointment that thankfully the movie does improve in some ways.

However, one of the thing that both versions at fault was the appropriation of India that most native Indian would identify. But as an Asian who have some form of understanding of Indian culture, I wouldn't recommend the book to audience desiring the real India which only could be experience by yourself and not by reading it.

But no, my issue with the book belong to the book itself. Titled as Q&A, it does adhere to the game storyline but although the movie simplified most of the things with street smart Jamal Malik, the Raj in this book is positively hateful. In fact, he just got lucky.. very very lucky especially actually.

Like the movie, it consisted of every chapter of the questions that follows the main character's ultimate prize in the end. However, unlike the movie which was crafted by experience screenplayer and producers, Vikas Swarup's prose wasn't as magnificent as its adaptation.

Written in a very juvenile narration, Raj is almost a pulp character churned into the image whence most readers could relate to. The story of his life is very different from the movie which made both unique in their own way. Henceforth, why both are different in a lot of way.

What surprised me was the appropriation done by the author to please his western audience. Reminence of a singaporean book I read last year especially on insisting that English as a better language than the mother language that the characters belong to. In this book, Raj grew up in a church of a priest and as the result he is fluent in English. Because of this, he later grew up as an adult with more advantage than the lesser folks due to his fluency. As a fluent bilingual asian reader, I am proud of my mothertongue and never as pretentious as I could, try to subject my views on native tongue as outdated and second class as both author do. I know it would have work in a more realist setting but the pretentiousness of this whole ideals never cease to amaze me (until someone pointed out that Swarup is basically 'India-celup' so that explains a lot)

What bugs me even more was the plot holes and characterizations in this book down to the misogynist conclusion. I get that incest rape, prostitution and abused ageing dramatic movie star was the feminine plots that the author try to introduce into his narration so that he would sound like a defender of the said ladies. I couldn't quite agree at the end since it finish off more as a pulp fiction without substance especially with the female characters in his book.

Like seeing something from a glass aquarium and more pulpy than it intended to be as a general fiction, Swarup gave a distorted view of the indian culture in a bizarre way a person could have for their motherland. With a quite a Marty Stu-ish main character, its not hard that one would find themselves connected with the character.

But as a novel written by a rather well-travelled person, I was rather stumped by the shallowness that this book reeks. I wonder if it improved with his later novels. ( )
  aoibhealfae | Sep 23, 2013 |
Retitling Q&A to Slumdog Millionaire is one of the clever marketing way that the publisher had done to the book. As much as I love watching the movie, the book itself is largely a disappointment that thankfully the movie does improve in some ways.

However, one of the thing that both versions at fault was the appropriation of India that most native Indian would identify. But as an Asian who have some form of understanding of Indian culture, I wouldn't recommend the book to audience desiring the real India which only could be experience by yourself and not by reading it.

But no, my issue with the book belong to the book itself. Titled as Q&A, it does adhere to the game storyline but although the movie simplified most of the things with street smart Jamal Malik, the Raj in this book is positively hateful. In fact, he just got lucky.. very very lucky especially actually.

Like the movie, it consisted of every chapter of the questions that follows the main character's ultimate prize in the end. However, unlike the movie which was crafted by experience screenplayer and producers, Vikas Swarup's prose wasn't as magnificent as its adaptation.

Written in a very juvenile narration, Raj is almost a pulp character churned into the image whence most readers could relate to. The story of his life is very different from the movie which made both unique in their own way. Henceforth, why both are different in a lot of way.

What surprised me was the appropriation done by the author to please his western audience. Reminence of a singaporean book I read last year especially on insisting that English as a better language than the mother language that the characters belong to. In this book, Raj grew up in a church of a priest and as the result he is fluent in English. Because of this, he later grew up as an adult with more advantage than the lesser folks due to his fluency. As a fluent bilingual asian reader, I am proud of my mothertongue and never as pretentious as I could, try to subject my views on native tongue as outdated and second class as both author do. I know it would have work in a more realist setting but the pretentiousness of this whole ideals never cease to amaze me (until someone pointed out that Swarup is basically 'India-celup' so that explains a lot)

What bugs me even more was the plot holes and characterizations in this book down to the misogynist conclusion. I get that incest rape, prostitution and abused ageing dramatic movie star was the feminine plots that the author try to introduce into his narration so that he would sound like a defender of the said ladies. I couldn't quite agree at the end since it finish off more as a pulp fiction without substance especially with the female characters in his book.

Like seeing something from a glass aquarium and more pulpy than it intended to be as a general fiction, Swarup gave a distorted view of the indian culture in a bizarre way a person could have for their motherland. With a quite a Marty Stu-ish main character, its not hard that one would find themselves connected with the character.

But as a novel written by a rather well-travelled person, I was rather stumped by the shallowness that this book reeks. I wonder if it improved with his later novels. ( )
  aoibhealfae | Sep 23, 2013 |
I really liked the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" as did many other people. The book was good but not great, and I enjoyed the movie was adapted from the book much more. ( )
  renrav | Sep 22, 2013 |
It was weird because I read this book after seeing the film so I basically went in reading this to be pretty much the same. Turns out that actually? The book is nothing like the film. It's kinda weird, I actually usually prefer the book versions of films but this one is so different that it really is like two completely different animals. I have absolutely no idea why they changed the book from Q&A to Slumdog Millionaire because there are far more differences than similarities in the characters journeys and reasonings in each version.

The book was great and a very quick read but it is pretty brutal and dark in places. Ram's life is very complicated (as it was in the film) but somehow in this it feels moreso in this. His start in life was hard, and it got worse and I liked the idea that unlike the film it wasn't told in order.

I think in the film that he was maybe too good a guy, I like that in the book version he is far more complicated. Saleem in the film was the more ambiguous character, but book Saleem is very much a secondary character. In fact, everyone in the book is secondary to Ram. It was interesting to see all these characters flit in and out of his existence and how each one shaped him but I can understand why it was changed - I don't know if it would have made a very satisfying feel good story for the main character to be a killed, who only went on the show to kill the game show host for ills he had done to people in his life and who was trying to raise enough money to buy his prostitute girlfriend off her brother who had been pimping her out since she was 12.

I was a bit disappointed that the love story that was the main aspect of the film wasn't such a main feature in this. I just loved the story between Jamal and Latika in the film, and I was kinda waiting for her, or her representation to show up right from the start because of the historical context their relationship had in the film. That was obviously stupid of me because I know better than to compare books and film, but I couldn't help but wish she had shown up a little sooner.

It was a great book though - really well written and so complex but yeah, pretty brutal. The depictions of torture and child abuse of both physical and sexual are quite difficult to read but they are small flashes which although horrific, don't feel gratuitous. They serve a purpose of shaping this character and the people around him. ( )
  sunnycouger | Sep 20, 2013 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
For my parents Vinod and Indra Swarup and my late grandfather Sri Jagadish Swarup
First words
I have been arrested. For winning a quiz show.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Originally published as "Q & A," reissued in 2008 as "Slumdog Millionaire" to match the title of the film based on it.

This is the novel the film is based on. please do not combine the film with this work.
Publisher's editors
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
When Ram Mohammed Thomas, an eighteen-year-old waiter from the slums of Mumbai, wins one billion rupees on India’s newest imitation of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, he is arrested almost immediately. Having offered a prize they are incapable of dispensing, the producers face bankruptcy unless Ram is convicted of cheating. A confession should be easy to obtain; after all, the chances of an uneducated orphan guessing twelve correct answers are astronomical. Even Ram’s lawyer, Smita, is sceptical at first – but behind each answer is a tale from Ram’s remarkable life, and as each tale unfolds, she comes to understand the luck he has made for himself.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743267486, Paperback)

Vikas Swarup's spectacular debut novel opens in a jail cell in Mumbai, India, where Ram Mohammad Thomas is being held after correctly answering all twelve questions on India's biggest quiz show, Who Will Win a Billion? It is hard to believe that a poor orphan who has never read a newspaper or gone to school could win such a contest. But through a series of exhilarating tales Ram explains to his lawyer how episodes in his life gave him the answer to each question.

Ram takes us on an amazing review of his own history -- from the day he was found as a baby in the clothes donation box of a Delhi church to his employment by a faded Bollywood star to his adventure with a security-crazed Australian army colonel to his career as an overly creative tour guide at the Taj Mahal.

Swarup's Q & A is a beguiling blend of high comedy, drama, and romance that reveals how we know what we know -- not just about trivia, but about life itself. Cutting across humanity in all its squalor and glory, Vikas Swarup presents a kaleidoscopic vision of the struggle between good and evil -- and what happens when one boy has no other choice in life but to survive.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:29 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"Stunning a television audience of millions, Ram draws upon a store of street wisdom and accidental encounters that provides him with the essential keys not only to the quiz show but also to life itself"--From publisher description.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 14 descriptions

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