Q & A(Paperback Edition)
by Vikas Swarup
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 taken 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 gone to school cannot know the name of the President of America, or the location of the Pyramids, or the plays of Shakespeare. Unless he has cheated.
Rescued from the police cell by a lawyer, Ram reviews television footage of his flawless performance and takes us on an amazing tour of his life – from the day he is salvaged from a dustbin, to his employment with a faded Bollywood star, to meeting a security-crazed Australian colonel, by way of a career as an over-creative tour guide at the Taj Mahal, to falling in love with Nita, a young prostitute. Passed from pillar to post for eighteen years, Ram’s instinct for strategy and survival is infallible.
Stunning a TV 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 is a beguiling blend of high comedy and touching melancholy. Cutting across humanity in all its squalor and glory, Vikas Swarup presents a kaleidoscopic vision of the struggle of good against evil, and what happens when one boy has no other choice in life but to survive.