Saturday, December 15, 2007

Q&A by Vikas Swarup - book review

I just finished reading Vikas Swarup's Q&A. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read and a complete page-turner.

The winner of the largest prize in a quiz game show is arrested on the grounds of cheating. Nobody believes that Ram Mohammad Thomas - a waiter in a Mumbai restaurant has answered all twelve questions correctly to win one billion rupees. This is how Q&A begins. The book is divided into chapters based on each question which Ram Mohammad Thomas was asked in the game show. I found this somewhat odd in the beginning but it is the only way the novel could have been organized.

Each question in the game show relates to a slice of Ram Mohammad Thomas's past and all these slices are quite enjoyable to read in a first-person narration form. Most of the stories have a suspense towards the end and though, one could guess the suspense as one moves on, they are a pleasure to read nonetheless.

Vikas Swarup is an Indian diplomat and this is his first novel. As I've found in novels about India like Shantaram and City of Joy , Q&A tries to excoticize the Indian poor but thankfully it does not dwell onto that for long periods and given the fast pace of the book, things generally happen quickly. I quite like the author's dry humor and his matter-of-fact style of writing bereft of long boring monologues.

The book has generous references to bollywood and many a times the stories read like a good bollywood movie - full of drama, dashes of thrill and tragedy but entertaining to the core. The small bio on author at the end of the book says that they are going to make a movie based on Q&A. It would be interesting to watch out for this one.

Dus Kahaniyaan
, which came out recently is an anthology of ten completely unrelated stories, each story having a different star cast. Then there are movies like Salaam-e-Ishq and Teen Deewarein in which the stories though seemingly unconnected end up being joined by a common thread in the end. Q&A would be somewhere in between the two - the common thread joining the different tales is revealed in the beginning itself but the stories themselves are all independent.

Huzefa

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