& A by Vikas Swarup
Published by Black Swan in 2006
‘I have been arrested. For winning a quiz
They came for me last night, when even the stray dogs had gone off
to sleep. They broke open my door, handcuffed me and marched me
off to the waiting jeep with a flashing red light.’
So begins Vikas Swarup’s story about the orphaned,
penniless waiter from Mumbai who answered thirteen questions correctly
on a TV quiz show to win one billion rupees. The producers have
him arrested, convinced that he has cheated his way to victory.
In telling his life story to his lawyer, he explains, via flashbacks,
how various events in his life provided him with the answers to
the 13 questions. Fighting to stay alive and make a living in ‘Asia’s
biggest slum ….amid the modern skyscrapers and neon-lit shopping
complexes’ through Ram’s life story, Swarup portrays
the difficulties of life for the underprivileged in India. Gangsters
kidnap and maim children to use as beggars; vain film stars flail
against their fading celebrity; policemen line their pockets; gamblers
fix cricket matches; pimps incarcerate their own sisters. But it
is also a story about friendship and loyalty and the lengths that
people are willing to go to for those they love.
brilliant story, as colossal, vibrant and chaotic as India itself
…is not to be missed.’ Observer
colourful, generous and admirably unvarnished portrait of contemporary
India, where not all the poor are angels, not all the wealthy are
villains.’ Literary Review
is an accomplished storyteller’ Daily Mail
Swarup was born in Allahabad, India, into a family of lawyers. He
works as an Indian diplomat and has served in Turkey, the United
States, Ethiopia and Great Britain.
Q & A is his first novel.
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