Summary and book reviews of Q&A (Slumdog Millionaire) by Vikas Swarup

Q&A (Slumdog Millionaire)

by Vikas Swarup

Q&A (Slumdog Millionaire) by Vikas Swarup
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2005, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2008, 336 pages

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Book Summary

Q&A - renamed Slumdog Millionaire after the Oscar-winning film based on the book - 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.

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.

Chapter 1

1,000 Rupees

The Death of a Hero

The third bell has sounded. The purple velvet curtain is about to be raised. The lights are progressively dimming, till only the red signs showing EXIT remain, glowing like embers in the darkened hall. Popcorn sellers and cold-drinks vendors begin to leave. Salim and I settle down in our seats.

The first thing you must know about Salim is that he is my best friend. The second is that he is crazy about Hindi films. But not all Hindi films. Just the ones featuring Armaan Ali.

They say that first there was Amitabh Bachchan. Then there was Shahrukh Khan. Now there is Armaan Ali. The ultimate action hero. The Indian Greek god. The heartthrob of millions.

Salim loves Armaan. Or, more accurately, he worships Armaan. His tiny room in the chawl is a shrine. It is lined with posters of all kinds depicting the hero in various poses. Armaan in a leather jacket. Armaan on a motorbike. Armaan with his shirt off, baring his hairy chest. Armaan with a gun. Armaan...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
This reading group guide includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction


Why is a penniless waiter from Mumbai sitting in a prison cell?
Is it because:
a) he has punched a customer;
b) he has drunk too much whisky;
c) he has stolen money from the till; or
d) he is the biggest quiz-show winner in history?

Ram Mohammad Thomas has been arrested. For answering twelve questions correctly on "Who Will Win a Billion?" Because a poor orphan who has never read a newspaper or...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

The New York Times - Elsa Dixler

Swarup, an Indian diplomat and first-time novelist, writes humorously and keeps the surprises coming. When it is turned into the movie it wants to be, Q & A will be a delight.

Publishers Weekly

Swarup's prose is sometimes flat and the story's picaresque form turns predictable. Ram is a likable fellow, but this q&a with him, though clever, grows wearying.

Booklist

Ram's funny and poignant odyssey explores the causes of good and evil and illustrates how, with a little luck, the best man sometimes wins.

Library Journal

[A] readable and inventive piece of social commentary that should strike a chord with admirers of somewhat melodramatic, Dickens-like fiction.

The Sunday Telegraph (UK)

It was an inspired idea by Vikas Swarup to write Q & A...A broad and sympathetic humanity underpins the whole book.

Daily Mail (London)

Swarup is an accomplished storyteller, and Q & A has all the immediacy and impact of an oral account.

Reader Reviews

Lupoman

Q & A
Having first seen the movie "Slumdog Millionaire", about a teenager from the slums of Mumbai who is a contestant on the TV game show "Who wants to be a millionaire" and is winning. But how does he do it? Is he cheating, is he very smart, or is it ...   Read More

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