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4.4 out of 5 stars
Q & A: A Novel
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I decided to read this book after seeing Slumdog Millionaire. I enjoyed the film so much I rushed out to get the book, but I have to say (and this has only been said once before about Forrest Gump book vs movie) that I enjoyed the movie more. The author has told a wonderful story about this young boy Ram and all the extensive trials and tribulations he has gone through in life. As is in the movie they jump back and forth between the past and present circumstances to determine if this boy did indeed know the answers to the questions on the gameshow. What the book has that the movie didn't was better background stories. I knew more about Ram, Ismail, and the people in their lives. There were several parts of the movie that, although not at the time, were better explained in the book. I did find at times it was difficult to pinpoint what time period in Ram's life that he was referring when he flashed back. It didn't follow an order and unless you have really good Indian knowledge you had to refer back several times. What the movie had that the book didn't was better descriptive elements, probably due to director's and screenwriters collaborative visions. I would have loved to read the screenplay too! All in all I would recommend reading the book then seeing the movie not the other way around. I found it was a little hard keeping it straight in the first few chapters not referrring back to the film. I would definitely recommend buying the book. Enjoy!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
After seeing Slumdog Millionaire, I told myself that I had to read the book. The book is wonderfully written and brings the same emotional energy from the film into writing, however most of the stories are extremely different. It is very clear to see how the book influenced the movie, but just don't be surprised on how different it really is. All and all, it was a fantastic read with a great ending that keeps you on your toes.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
...and the movie won god damned Best Picture of the year!

This book is unlike any other. Unlike the film, the characters in Q&A are believable, placed in an unflinching environment, pitted against very real circumstances. Whats more is that the character is easy to relate to, smart, and strong willed, while still affected by the daunting effects of emotion and acts accordingly to whatever outstanding circumstance (None of which are far fetched, considering the location) Swarup creates.

The story will not only borrow your heart during the time that will fly by while Ram Mohammad Thomas tells you about his hardships, but it will give you a real insight into the culture of Mumbai, India.

This is a must read! You will not be displeased!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
I want to start this by saying that I like tragic stories. I love drama and heartbreak and emotional connections through horrible situations. I can't deny it, but it sucks me in and holds me close. That being said, there comes a point where your incessant badgering of tragedy upon tragedy becomes manipulative and unsuccessful. I faced that problem while reading Vikas Swarup's `Q & A', the inspiration for Danny Boyle's Oscar winning `Slumdog Millionaire'.

This is one of those rare occasions where the movie is better than the novel. That isn't saying a whole lot, since the film was mediocre at best, but it is saying something.

First of all, to anyone who wants to read this book because they loved the movie, beware. This book is VERY different. The same core plot is there. A young boy has won India's `Who Wants to Win a Billion' and has been arrested on charges of cheating. Now he has to explain how a poor waiter could have possibly known all the answers to the questions and he takes us on his journey through life. That is where the similarities stop. Many (most) of the stories he tells are not in the film. The love story is not there (there is a small love story unveiled at the very end of the book, but not like the one in the film) and all the jovial lightheartedness of the film is missing in the book. Instead, we are faced with chapter after chapter of tragic surroundings that heap upon the reader with each passing sentence.

Children are molested, people are murdered, women are abused, money is stolen, children are maimed for financial gain; life is hopeless.

All of this could be forgiven had Vikas Swarup not been such a lazy writer. This isn't to say that every paragraph he crafts is a mistake, but he has a tendency of creating a nice buildup and then throwing it all away in the conclusion. Each chapter ends with a brief conversation between the accused and his lawyer as they prepare to watch a clip from the show and see how his story helped him answer the question. These conversations are poorly written and just plain lazy. They are abrupt and show cracks in Swarup's storytelling. The final chapter (more specifically, the Epilogue) is a mess of rushed `tying up of loose ends' and winds up ending the novel on a very sour note.

But there's more.

Tapestry stories are all the rage these days. Let's show you bits and pieces of separate stories and then unveil magically at the end of the said film or book or TV show how all those pieces interconnect to create on elaborate story. This works sometimes and then feels forced others. When you are a lazy writer, it doesn't work. `Q & A' is a tapestry film, and this is all unveiled in the final chapter (`The Thirteenth Question') and really feels like a rushed mess of a conclusion that makes this reader roll his eyes. I won't reveal the big `twist' (either of them) but I'll say this...

It's dumb.

As you can see, I'm in the minority here. I'm sure that many of the five-star reviews come from people who loved the film and enjoy an underdog story (there isn't a bigger one than this) and liked that the book, while extremely different, followed the same narrative. Good guys win. Bad guys lose. Hope overcomes tragedy. I just can't get behind this book. The film was manipulative enough, but at least it was competently made (and the changes made to the story, as clichéd as they were, actually helped this a great deal) and moderately entertaining.

This doesn't.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
After I saw Slumdog for the 2nd time, I noticed the "based upon the novel" in the credits, so the next time I went to the library, I scored. (The librarian didn't even know they had the book. I knocked the book out in less than a day, literally could not put it down. It's outstanding, and would have made a great, great movie.
Slumdog Millionaire is "based" upon Vikas Swarup's debut novel, "Q&A". BTW, Amazon know-it-alls, the title is Q&A, NOT Q & A!!
Both the film and the book have to do with a young Mumbai orphan who is snagged by a scumbag named Maman(who cripples orphans to make them be able to beg more effectively), who eventually works as an unofficial guide at the Taj Mahald, and who eventually wins on a TV game show(partly by answering a question about the Colt revolver). That's pretty much all the movie has in common with the book.
Much like "Forrest Gump", the general plot of the book was taken, adapted, and adapted well. The book "Forrest Gump" was OK, nothing special. The movie was beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed "Slumdog". I loved "Q&A"!!.
Again, some adjustments were done simply for dramatic effect. Look at "The Natural" and "On The Waterfront": both movies end happily, while both books end dismally.
For what I think is the most glaring and cheesy ending change, check out "Midnight Express": the real escape, stealing a boat at night then drifting ashore only to have to(unowingly)cross a minefield was changed to a brutal killing for no good reason, and Billy Hayes(author of Midnight Express) has totally distanced himself from the movie.
I don't see why the gun violence was in Slumdog, when in the book, it was just good old-fashioned blunt instruments & knives, excepting a fine scene on a train that would have been well included in the film.

I'll wait until the DVD of Slumdog gets down to $5. I scored a copy of Q&A last night for $11.49. COOL!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
Everyone loves the movie slumdog but the book is so great in its own. It has such inspiration in it and is quite funny too. I would say if you have seen slumdog read this book and if you read the book watch the movie. They are quite different and in a good way. Read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2013
Format: Paperback
At first, you may think you know the fate of young Ram Mohammad Thomas, who happens to be just an ordinary uneducated slumdog when he becomes a contestant on the show "Who Will Be a Billionaire". But if you're like me, this book had me guessing and wondering until the very end. One thing I loved about this book is that you never can predict what will happen next. All of Ram's crazy experiences and stories keep you engulfed in the story and just wanting to read more and more. Another reason why this book is my favorite is because Ram's character develops a lot throughout the book. Im not the type of person that likes surprises and i usually just read the end of a book so i know what happens, but with this book, i was so glued to the pages, i didn't even want to look at the end! When i finally got to the end of the book, i would have never guessed that it would end the way it did which is another reason why i love the book. You never really think about Ram's motives for being on the show. I mean he's a poor, uneducated kid that was just trying to get a chance to make it big was my first thought. It wasn't until the end that Ram's motives were revealed and honestly i never saw it coming. All the twist and turns of Ram's life will keep you wanting to read and know the story behind every answer Ram gives, leading up to his true purpose for being a contestant.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Q & A was the basis of Slumdog Millionaire. I have still not seen the movie, but I loved the book. The premise is brilliant and simple: a poor waiter in Mumbai lands on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and he wins. The producers are convinced he cheated; how could this uneducated young man possibly know the answers to all these questions? The book takes us through his life, question by question. The chapters go in the order of the game show, so it's not chronological in Ram's life.

The book was an absolute joy to read. It was a beautifully haunting look at the unglamorous realities of life in India. As I love to say about great novels, the plot is not truly what it's about. Aren't we all representations of our collective knowledge from surprisingly and usual places? I love to ask the question, "how do you know that?" because it so often leads to great stories of happenstance. I'm eagerly awaiting Swarup's next book, Six Suspects, set to be published on July 7, 2009, according to Books in Print. If anyone at MacMillan St.Martin's is listening, I'd love an ARC!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
I read this book 2 years ago, from the New BOOKS shelf of the Arcadia library. I generally love to read anything by authors of Indian heritage just because myself growing up in the former USSR which was a great friend of India at the time, I was in love with the soap operas of the Bollywood (30-25 years ago). So I am kinda familiar with the social differences of their society and understand where all this come from - casts,poverty,etc.
The book is absolutely the best in describing all of the differences in a matter of the few pages, at the same time following the plot and all.

Mr. Swarup - kudos to you and regret that I did not write this earlier!
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on February 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
Synopsis: Street kid, Ram Mohammad Thomas has been arrested after winning one billion rupees in a TV quiz contest. The producers of the show think he cheated somehow, as how could a Mumbai street kid possibly know the answers to all the questions? Mysteriously, a lawyer releases Ram from prison, and Ram explains to her how the events in his life have allowed him to answer all the questions correctly.

I really loved the film 'Slumdog Millionaire' and when I found out it was based on a book I had to read it. A few years ago I read a book called Coronation Talkies by Susan-Kurosawa which is absolutely hilarious and made me fall in love with books about India. I know it is not really fair to compare books to each other, but of all the books about India I have read, this one is one of the poorer ones. The layout of the story is very interesting and unique, it swings between Ram telling the story of an event in his life, and then switching to the game show to show how he answered the question correctly. The problem for me is in the telling of the events. The blurb on the back of the book reads 'In his warm hearted tale lies all the comedy, tragedy, joy and pathos of modern India.' I felt like the tone of the story was not quite right, it was sort of light and breezy but without being funny and clever enough to make the tragedy interesting and engaging. And in some cases the story drags on a little, I found myself skimming sections to get to the point which isn't something I do very often. I think this is one of the rare occasions where the movie is a much better telling of a story than the novel.

If you would like to read an amazing story about the 'comedy, tragedy, joy and pathos' of India I strongly recommend Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance which is one of my favourite books of all time. If you have already seen 'Slumdog Millionaire' I think you can consider the story told without needing to read any further.
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