Saturday, 14 February 2009
Book Review: Q and A by Vikas Swarup
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd.
Ram Mohammad Thomas has been arrested. For answering twelve questions correctly on Who Will Win A Billion? Because a poor orphan who has never gone to school cannot name the smallest planet in the solar system, or the plays of Shakespeare. Unless he has cheated. Reviewing TV footage of the show, Ram tells us how he won, and takes us on an amazing tour of his life. From the day he is rescued from a dustbin, to his encounter with a security-crazed Australian colonel, and a spell as an over-creative guide at the Taj Mahal, Ram's survival instincts are infallible. Stunning an audience of millions, he draws on a store of street wisdom and trivia to provide him with the essential keys, not only to the quiz show, but to life itself. Set in modern India, "Q & A" presents a kaleidoscopic vision of the struggle of good against evil, and what happens when one boy has no choice left in life but to survive.
I had picked up this book and put it down at the library so many times before I finally decided that, yes, I would read it. And I am so glad that I did.
The word 'karma' is never used in the book but that is the word that, to me, sums it up.
The book begins with poor orphan boy Ram being arrested and taken into police custody after being accused by TV producers of cheating in a TV game show. He is tortured by the police who want him to confess, and we know that he is innocent as the game show owners admit to themselves that they just didn't have the money to pay him. Just as Ram is thinking of signing the confession papers to end the torture a young female lawyer comes along and stops the police and takes him away to her home. It is here that we slowly and amazingly learn the story of Ram's life and how he has been able to answer all the questions correctly.
From living and working for an aged film star to being a tour guide at the Taj Mahal and meeting good and bad people inbetween, Ram's faith in the goodness of life does not desert him and his unselfishness and kindness is rewarded when he needs it most.
This is not a book that preaches to the reader - it is a fascinating story that, okay, is full of coincidences, but I feel that life is like that sometimes.......coincidences do happen all the time. And not everything that happens to Ram is good, he does have his fair share of bad luck too.
I really loved this book, in some ways it is such a simple story of rags to riches but with a few twists and turns.