Book Review: Q&A: Slumdog Millionaire, Vikas Swarup

Vikas Swarup is an Indian diplomat who has served in Turkey, the US, Ethiopia and Great Britain. ‘Q&A: Slumdog Millionaire’ is his first novel. Due to be translated into twenty-five languages, it has already been made into a critically acclaimed film by ‘Trainspotting’ director Danny Boyle, and ‘Full Monty’ writer Simon Beaufoy. Swarup is currently working on his second novel.

Eighteen-year-old Ram Mohammad Thomas is an uneducated orphan working as a waiter in Mumbai. ‘Q:A’ tells the story of how this penniless young man became the biggest quiz show winner in history.

After successfully applying for ‘Who Will Win A Billion?’ India’s version of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,’ Ram Mohammad Thomas answers the twelve questions correctly and wins one billion rupees. Unable to believe a boy with Ram’s background could be so knowledgeable the producers have him arrested and thrown behind bars for cheating.  

What the producers do not know is that it is the twelve extraordinary events in Ram’s life that have led him to the answers; being found in a dustbin by a priest, how he came to have three names, fooling a professional hit-man, and also falling in love. 

‘Q&A: Slumdog Millionaire’ is at one touching, humorous, fresh, innovative and fantastical, but it is also delightfully ethical as it serves as a reminder that if you are inquisitive and attentive, life itself can be an education. Written with colour and vivid characterisation, it leaves us wanting more from this imaginative and accomplished storyteller. 

‘Q&A: Slumdog Millionaire’ is published in paperback on 29th January 2009, priced £7.99